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.
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.
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.
- Length: 84.25 in (2.140 m)
- Wingspan: 24.4 in (62 cm)
- Diameter: 11.4 in (29 cm)
- Weight: 203 lb (92 kg)
- Speed: Mach 2
- Range: 6 mi (9.7 km)
- Guidance: semi-active radar homing
- Warhead: W54 nuclear, explosive yield 250 t TNT equivalent
Below is a list of museums which have an AIM-26 in their collection:
- Museum of Aviation, Warner Robins, Georgia (AIM-26 A)
- National Museum of Naval Aviation, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida (AIM-26 A)
- DVHAA Historical Aircraft Museum, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pennsylvania (AIM-26 A)
- Keski-Suomen ilmailumuseo / Aviation Museum of Central Finland, Finland (AIM-26 B / RB 27)
- Robotmuseum / Robot museum Arboga, Sweden (AIM-26 B / RB 27)
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