General Dynamics AIM-97 / XAIM-97 Seekbat

KJ_Lesnick

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Is it true that the F-15's were actually intended to carry the AIM-97 Seekbat to deal with the MiG-25?

How many could it carry?


KJ Lesnick
 
Re: F-15 and AIM-97 Seekbat

Speaking of Seekbat, what was the point of developing a brand new missile such as that (admittedly based off the prior existing STARM) when you already had Phoenix?
 
Re: F-15 and AIM-97 Seekbat

Seekbat's guidance system was largely based on the Standard ARM passive radar homing system. Modifying the guidance for air-to-air use required a fairly modest tweak to tailor the RF seeker to the MiG-25's radar frequencies and add an IR seeker for terminal homing. Considering that the Standard Missile itself had started life as an anti-air weapon, not too much else would have been required.

Phoenix, OTOH, was tightly coupled to the AWG-9 weapon system and the F-14 itself. Adapting the F-15 to handle Phoenix would have taken a lot of work, as shown in the various F-15N (PHX) versions.
 
Photograph courtesy of the National Archives II.

Link to Andreas' page

General Dynamics AIM-97 Seekbat

In 1972, the USAF initiated a program to develop a high-altitude long-range air-to-air missile to counter the MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft. The missile was based on the AGM-78 Standard ARM, and was designated as XAIM-97A Seekbat (sometimes written Seek Bat).

The Seekbat used a larger propulsion unit than the AGM-78, and supplemented the latter's radar seeker with an infrared homing device. The missile had to be locked on the target before launch. The AIM-97 was intended to be effective at altitudes up to 24000 m (80000 ft). Test firings of XAIM-97A prototypes against drones began in late 1972, but the program was short-lived, and was no longer active in early 1976.
 

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Just stumbled across the unreferenced article on Wikipedia, I wonder what the truth in this claim is:

The Bomarc would prove to be a poor choice for target drone, due in part to the requirement to operate it in a manner outside its intended operational envelope.

In sustained high altitude flight, the Bomarc would roll onto its back and dive when the engines became oxygen starved. This flight characteristic was previously unknown to program officers. When the Bomarc rolled on its back, the wings shielded the engines, causing the Seekbat to unlock from the target during terminal guidance. Instead, the Seekbat test missile IR seeker would chase the sun once the Bomarc went "cold."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIM-97_Seekbat
 
Re: F-15 and AIM-97 Seekbat

KJ_Lesnick said:
Is it true that the F-15's were actually intended to carry the AIM-97 Seekbat to deal with the MiG-25?

How many could it carry?


KJ Lesnick

I'd also be interested in an answer to both questions. Obviously the program was terminated once the true capabilities & limitations of the MIG-25 were known, but someone must have explored the mounting lay-outs on the figher aircraft intended to carry it. I think that for the test program they used an F-106, but I would assume that had it, or the Huges Brazo reached service it would have been offered to both F-14s and F-15s.

Can anyone find documentation that would support or disprove these conjectures.
 
I did some of my own searching online to see if anything more had been posted about it.

Sadly it was a lot of wikipedia mirrors and several odd things that might be worth investigating. Someone on a combat simulator forum had posted a fictional press release about the XAIM-97 being tested as an ASAT weapon in 1974. In the resulting thread (Link the poster stated that he had based it on some information he had 'dug up' about the missile, buit sadly didn't say where they found it. The other was a snippet view of a website that has been deleted and appeared to be claiming that Iran was working on converting Standards into Air-to-Air weapons. The final thing is also the most logical given that the Russians were basing MIG-25s in Egypt, namely that Israel was involved in the program to some extent.

I'd love to confim the ASAT story, but have no idea where to start.
 
Graham1973 said:
I did some of my own searching online to see if anything more had been posted about it.

Sadly it was a lot of wikipedia mirrors and several odd things that might be worth investigating. Someone on a combat simulator forum had posted a fictional press release about the XAIM-97 being tested as an ASAT weapon in 1974. In the resulting thread (Link the poster stated that he had based it on some information he had 'dug up' about the missile, buit sadly didn't say where they found it. The other was a snippet view of a website that has been deleted and appeared to be claiming that Iran was working on converting Standards into Air-to-Air weapons. The final thing is also the most logical given that the Russians were basing MIG-25s in Egypt, namely that Israel was involved in the program to some extent.

I'd love to confim the ASAT story, but have no idea where to start.

There is this but this picture has been around forever:
 

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The ASAT carried by the F-106 was Project SPIKE, it was an AGM-78 (not Seekbat) modded with a KKV. Never fired, but captive carried in 1971.


One source claims the F-4E was the intended carrier of Seekbat, not the F-15, Seekbat being a stop-gap to deal with FOXBAT until the F-15 was available.
 
index.php


The Seekbat was also intended for carriage by the USAF's Strategic Advanced Manned Interceptor (SAMI). The above launch concept was part of Vought's (AI/AMI) design for SAMI. One odd thing though. Seekbat didn't formally get underway until 1972, while the drawing is from early 1971.
 
That missile isn't exactly Seekbat -- it lacks the tail control surfaces, for example. It may just be a representative sketch for a generic heavy AAM.
 
I had thought the initial design for Seekbat had lacked the rear control surfaces, but you could be right.
 
Grey Havoc said:
I had thought the initial design for Seekbat had lacked the rear control surfaces, but you could be right.

I've never seen any sketches for Seekbat so it's possible, but given its origin as a Standard Missile, I can't see how they could omit the tails. Without them, there's no way to steer the missile. It's a bit early for anyone to to thinking about TVC.
 
Judging by this mockup of the F-15 http://aviationarchives.blogspot.com/2015/08/f-15-full-scale-mockup-question-aim-82.html I imagine that there were only four hardpoints on the original F-15 - two in the rear taken by Brazo, two in the front that carry twinned AIM-82s.

I think that would mean it would probably carry the Seekbat on one of those four, or possibly take two hardpoints due to its size. But I'm not sure about how this proposal compared chronologically with Seekbat development.
 
The F-15 mockup has to be around 1969 or 1970 (AIM-82 was cancelled in late 1970) and the F-15 that flew in 1972 had the wing and centerline hardpoint options.

I'd guess they might have hung a single Seekbat on the centerline pylon, like they did for ASAT later.
 
Seek Bat Designed for Foxbat Intercept

High-altitude air-to-air USAF/General Dynamics Electro Dynamic Div. Seek Bat missile, now being tested against drone target systems, is on display in the Air Force Armament Development and Test Center’s Armament Laboratory, Eglin AFB. Fla. Designed to pursue the Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor, the Seek Bat uses the Standard ARM (AGM-78) missile as an airframe, a larger propulsion package. and acquires and locks on to the target prior to launch. lts guidance system is an infrared seeker to home on the interceptor's exhaust plume. The missile is being developed to counter the Foxbat in the thin atmosphere above 80,000 ft.
AWST, 9 Jan 1973

(picture was the same one RyanC posted earlier)
 
Termination of testing for the high—altitude air-to-air USAF/General Dynamics Electro Dynamic Div. Seek Bat missile, with expectations that it will be in
the inventory. Tests should conclude in time for requests for production funds to be included in the Fiscal 1975 budget. A standard ARM (AGM-78) missile is the airframe with a larger propulsion package. The Seek Bat is designed to pursue the Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor in the thin atmosphere above 80,000 ft.
(AW&ST Jan. 8, p. 16).

AWST, 26 March 1973
 
Talking about ASAT I wonder if they will try an air launched version of the SM-3?
 
Re: F-15 and AIM-97 Seekbat

Seekbat's guidance system was largely based on the Standard ARM passive radar homing system. Modifying the guidance for air-to-air use required a fairly modest tweak to tailor the RF seeker to the MiG-25's radar frequencies and add an IR seeker for terminal homing. Considering that the Standard Missile itself had started life as an anti-air weapon, not too much else would have been required.

Phoenix, OTOH, was tightly coupled to the AWG-9 weapon system and the F-14 itself. Adapting the F-15 to handle Phoenix would have taken a lot of work, as shown in the various F-15N (PHX) versions.
Yep, Phoenix would have required a more expensive radar on the F-15 (AN/APG-64) with TWS feature to support Phoenix and needs help with guidance until the last 25km or so. Seekbat was self contained and guided and could have equipped the F-4 too without radar upgrades.
 
I think once the MiG-25 was better assessed as to speed and ceiling they realised the AIM-7F Sparrow was adequate for intercept.

I remember reading somewhere years ago that the IAF put a stop to overflights of Israel by reconnaissance MiG-25s in the late 1970s by shooting down at least one of them with an AIM-7F.
 
I think once the MiG-25 was better assessed as to speed and ceiling they realised the AIM-7F Sparrow was adequate for intercept.

I remember reading somewhere years ago that the IAF put a stop to overflights of Israel by reconnaissance MiG-25s in the late 1970s by shooting down at least one of them with an AIM-7F.

No, Israel never managed to shoot down any of the MiG-25 recce birds flying out of Egypt. Egypt actually stopped the MiG-25 flights themselves by the mid-1970s.

In 1981, Israeli F-15s did manage two kills against regular MiG-25s out of Syria that were trying to intercept Israeli RF-4Es.
 
Are there any details on what version of the AIM-9 the Seekbat's terminal IR-seeker was based on?
 
They probably wanted Israel's high temperature ruby material for the seeker window.

The alternative was to try the British faceted technique used on Firestreak.
 
Are there any details on what version of the AIM-9 the Seekbat's terminal IR-seeker was based on?

It might not have been a Sidewinder. There were plenty of other options, including Redeye II/Stinger (in development at the time) and whatever GD was proposing for AIM-82. Or something totally bespoke.
 
They probably wanted Israel's high temperature ruby material for the seeker window.

The alternative was to try the British faceted technique used on Firestreak.

How can I put this gently -- neither of these suggestions make any sense.

1) sapphire (not ruby) is a pretty well known IR window material, but it wasn't the norm in the 1970s and this application didn't really demand it. Israel didn't become a leader in thiis sort of technology until much later, in any case.

2) the faceted nose on Firestreak wasn't due to heating. Ironically, it was due to icing buildup on the original round nose design.
 
They probably wanted Israel's high temperature ruby material for the seeker window.

The alternative was to try the British faceted technique used on Firestreak.

How can I put this gently -- neither of these suggestions make any sense.

1) sapphire (not ruby) is a pretty well known IR window material, but it wasn't the norm in the 1970s and this application didn't really demand it. Israel didn't become a leader in thiis sort of technology until much later, in any case.

2) the faceted nose on Firestreak wasn't due to heating. Ironically, it was due to icing buildup on the original round nose design.
You do realize they are all corundums. The difference is merely the trace quantities that give it visible color. IIRC the actual sapphire used in the dome is technically ruby that's been cast as a ceramic. But, hey, we can play semantics if you prefer.

The highest public source for AIM-97's velocity appears to be Mach 3.3, which wouldn't have been too useful against MiG-25RB doing overflights. Slow enough to maybe not use ceramic ruby. It sure wouldn't have hurt.

I've heard the icing story on Firestreak. That may be true. The shape also gave the airflow form, which would have helped disperse heat buildup at its flight speeds.
 
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They probably wanted Israel's high temperature ruby material for the seeker window.

The alternative was to try the British faceted technique used on Firestreak.

How can I put this gently -- neither of these suggestions make any sense.

1) sapphire (not ruby) is a pretty well known IR window material, but it wasn't the norm in the 1970s and this application didn't really demand it. Israel didn't become a leader in thiis sort of technology until much later, in any case.

2) the faceted nose on Firestreak wasn't due to heating. Ironically, it was due to icing buildup on the original round nose design.
You do realize they are all corundums. The difference is merely the trace quantities that give it visible color. IIRC the actual sapphire used in the dome is technically ruby that's been cast as a ceramic. But, hey, we can play semantics if you prefer.

It's not semantics to use the term that people in the business actually use. Lots of references to sapphire IR domes, few if any to ruby.
 
Re: F-15 and AIM-97 Seekbat



I'd also be interested in an answer to both questions. Obviously the program was terminated once the true capabilities & limitations of the MIG-25 were known, but someone must have explored the mounting lay-outs on the figher aircraft intended to carry it. I think that for the test program they used an F-106, but I would assume that had it, or the Huges Brazo reached service it would have been offered to both F-14s and F-15s.

Can anyone find documentation that would support or disprove these conjectures.
You alluded to the question I was just about to ask the forum Graham1974!
Hopefully, something - especially a drawing/artist impression will come to light.

Regards
Pioneer
 
Here's what my friend told me:
The AIM-97 Bat Hunter, as its name suggests, is a heavy interceptor missile designed to be mounted on the F-15 to hunt the Soviet Mach 3 MIG-25 Foxbat.The AIM-97 Bat Hunter is a modification of the AGM-78 Standard Anti-Radiation Missile (SARM), which retains the SARM's wide-band passive radar head but adds an infrared head to form a dual-mode passive radar+infrared guidance system. It retains the broadband passive radar guidance head of the standard anti-radiation missile, but adds an infrared guidance head, constituting a passive radar + infrared dual-mode guidance.

AIM-97 launched by the F-15, broadband anti-radiation passive guide first tracked the MIG-25 Tornado radar high-power signals, was guided to the target near the infrared guide head start, lock due to the high-speed flight of high heat generated by the body of the MIG-25, a hit.
The AIM-97 weighs 600kg, much heavier than the Navy's F-14 Adena, and can almost compete with the MIG-25P's R-40 for the world's largest air-to-air missile. Its range is so impressive that it can intercept the Mach 3 MIG-25 head-on at an altitude of 24,000 meters from 70-90 kilometers away.

Then I only got a blurry black and white photo. The detailed performance parameters of this missile are completely unavailable.
 

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Is it true that the F-15's were actually intended to carry the AIM-97 Seekbat to deal with the MiG-25?

How many could it carry?


KJ Lesnick
Although not a direct answer to your question KJ-Lesnick, I found this on my hard drive [Sorry, I don't have a source]:

The AIM-82 was part of a triumvirate of new weapons being developed by the USAF in the late 1960s, along with the Philco-Ford GAU-7 cannon (chambered for a new proprietary, caseless, telescoped 25 mm shell), and the AIM-97 Seekbat (a long range radar-guided air-to-air missile). It was envisioned that these would become the primary weapons of a new generation of fighter aircraft also under development at the time, the FX (short for "Fighter Experimental"), though the FX was also planned to use AIM-7 Sparrows as an interim while the AIM-97 was under development.
I think it's interesting, and it might have already been noted, but the fact that the Aim-7 Sparrow, which I always thought was the FX/F-15's primary weapon, is stated as only "an interim...."

Regards
Pioneer
 
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