Tube-launched Air to air Missiles


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22 October 2006
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Having seen the threads about the AIM-95 and AIM-152, I started wondering about tube-launched A2A missiles. Frankly, the concept sounds interesting to me, but I keep wondering about undesired drag after expending the munition, and lock-on-before-launch parameters, among other things.

Have anyone of you, gents have more information regarding this subject, images, diagrams, and I would be very pleased to read your comments and resonings.

Taildog used doors on its tubes, so after the round was fired the door closed and reduced drag. Obviously the door opened before acquisition, in order to lock on.

I wonder what the advantage of a tube launch over external carriage is...
One advantage of tube launching is that it protects the missile from the elements. Also if they wanted to get fancy (not extremely so though) they could climate control the inside of the tube and eliminate thermal cycling and corrosion and extend the lives of the rounds. The down side is that tube launching obviously requires folding fins which increases complexity and weight of the missile.
Hmm, it seems that a major bonus would be that you could carry them on a standard tripple rack for Mk 82 bombs. That way, a Phantom could have carried 12 units...
Firefly said:
Hmm, it seems that a major bonus would be that you could carry them on a standard tripple rack for Mk 82 bombs. That way, a Phantom could have carried 12 units...

Like that?


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overscan said:
Why couldn't you carry them, untubed, in the same configuration?

Well, perhaps someone was of the opinion that attachment points imposed a weight penalty upon the missile, hence the launch tubes.

You also have the issue of flight time limitations for the missile. Wasn't the French AS.30 missile flight time limited, having a lifetime specified in a specific number of hours of external carriage?
I remember reading somewhere that repeated traps aboard aircraft carriers tended to degrade the electronics of some missile systems, like the AIM-54.

Also, is the tubed munition a "ready" or "wooden" round?

Would the tube packaging truly protect against elements and/or bring-back?

Of course, I agree that tubing mandates some kind of wing-fold, but it is not something already widely practiced on rocket rounds? (I agree beforehand, that rockets are not guided and nor manoeuverable -except in the case of the APKWS, but that's another topic- and hence won't have to have manoeuvering controls or surfaces)

GD and Westinghouse chose a tube-launched missile to save weight. Inside the tube, the missile is isolated from the aerodynamic and structural loads associated with being carried on the aircraft for many sorties, and it can therefore be lighter. The missile is lighter than an AIM-7 Sparrow.

Nice quote from AIM-152 topic.
So is the tube intended solely to absorb loads and stresses?

Then, structural members that could go into the missile to strenghten it against G-forces and other stressors like buffeting and so, are otherwise in the tube?

The GD/Westinghouse version of AIM-152 would have been tube launched, but apparently the Hughes one would not have been. The advantages of the tube, isolation from the elements (which can have some benefit in missile design) and you might even be able to make the missile smaller and lighter The downside is that maintenance is harder unless you succeed in developing a "wooden round", and complexity of the launch mechanism. Weight could be saved but don't forget you've got to factor in the weight of the tube itself.
All the adapted MANPADS, of course.

Air-to-Air Stinger



(Can't find a decient image that isn't from a video game)
Cool to actually see a picture of it on the AH-64. I recall reading how they were going to do a shoot-off between Starstreak and Stinger to decide on the air-to-air missile selected for the AH-64 but at some points these plans disappeared in the post-Cold War drawdown.
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