AIM-26 Falcon

Artwork on warhead of AIM-26A on display at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
AIM-26A 1.jpg

The AIM-26 Falcon was a larger, more powerful version of the AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missile built by Hughes. It is the only guided U.S. air-to-air weapon with a nuclear warhead, though the unguided AIR-2 Genie was also nuclear-armed.

Development

Starting in 1956 Hughes Electronics began the development of an enlarged version of the GAR-1D Falcon that would carry a nuclear warhead. It was intended to provide a sure kill in attacks on Soviet heavy bomber aircraft. The original development was for semi-active radar homing and heat-seeking versions based on the conventional GAR-1/GAR-2 weapons, under the designations GAR-5 and GAR-6, respectively. The program was canceled, but was later revived in 1959.

The resultant GAR-11 (later AIM-26A) entered service in 1961, carried by Air Defense Command F-102 Delta Dagger interceptors. It used a radar proximity fuze and semi-active radar homing.

The GAR-11 used a sub-kiloton (250 ton) W54 warhead shared with the 'Davy Crockett' M-388 recoilless rifle projectile, rather than the larger W25 warhead of the AIR-2 Genie nuclear rocket.

Out of concern for the problems inherent in using nuclear weapons over friendly territory, a conventional version of the GAR-11, the GAR-11A, was developed, using a 40 lb (18.1 kg) conventional high-explosive warhead.

After 1963 the weapon was redesignated AIM-26. The nuclear version became AIM-26A, the conventional model AIM-26B. From 1970 to 1972 the nuclear warheads of the AIM-26A weapons were rebuilt for the nuclear version of the AGM-62 Walleye glide bomb.

The AIM-26 saw little widespread use in American service, retiring in 1972. The conventional AIM-26B was exported to Switzerland as the HM-55, where it was used on Swiss Mirage IIIS fighters. The AIM-26B was produced under license in Sweden as the Rb 27 and modified, arming Saab Draken J-35F and 35J fighters, plus AJ-37 Viggen. It was retired in 1998. When Finland bought Saab Draken fighters the license-manufactured Swedish Falcons were included.

Specifications (GAR-11/AIM-26A)

Survivors

Below is a list of museums which have an AIM-26 in their collection:

See also

External links