The Shrike (AGM-45)
Was on a training exercise where I got to launch a Shrike at a ship based radar target. It was a big missile and a lot of fun launching.
- Weight: 390 pounds
- Length: 10 feet
- Diameter: 8 inches
- Speed: Mach 1.5
I felt it come off the aircraft and made only very minor adjustments to the flight controls. I remember there being a bit of yaw, and not so much roll. I was mesmerized by its departure. It got kicked off the pylon and dropped slowly away from the wing keeping pace with me, before the rocket ignited leaving a long trail of smoke and disappeared.
The controller of the boat told me when the radar came up, and I saw the Shrike lock on. With a positive acquisition, and clearance to fire, I made a call that the missile was armed and inbound. They had an idea when it would arrive, although they were not tracking it. They had a calculated flight time and shut down the radar before impact. The missile went ballistic and missed the target.
Some pilots would fire first and then wait a few seconds before calling armed and inbound. In this way the controllers would misjudge the flight time allowing the missile to destroy the target. Since several flights used the target, it was somewhat customary for the last flight to make an early inbound call.
During the brief we went over the launch procedures and there was a warning that the pilot should not fly through the plume of the Shrike because of how hot the gas was. As the missile left the aircraft the plume ended up down the intake, I corrected quickly and looked in at my turbine outlet temperature (ToT). It was pegged, and my initial reaction was, "Holy $%&^" Then I settled down and realized it was a guage malfunction. Relieved I headed home and let maintenance know.
An Air Medal
I was briefing with one of the Cmdrs in the squadron and he was in his khakis with his ribbons on. I never kept track of those sorts of things, and yet was interested in a simple gold and blue ribbon in one of the rows. "Hey, Bagrat what is that one for?"
He told me that while in Vietnam he was out in front of the strike with 4 Shrikes on his wings. His job was to light up the SAM sights and engage them with his anti-radiation missiles. As he moved inland his ECM gear went off and he had a target acquisition warning followed by a visual of the SAM that was launched.
He launched the first Shrike and broke on the missile, while the radar that was tracking him shut down. When the Shrike lost the radar signal it went ballistic and missed the target. As the missile went by him he turned back towards the site and was picked up again by the acquisition radar. Another SAM was launched, and again he fired and broke to get away. The radar site shut down once more coming back up when the Shrike missed them. Finally, on the fourth and last Shrike, he got a hit on the site. He won the Air Medal for that engagement.