AIM-7 Sparrow General
AIM-7 Sparrow
Air-to-Air Missile
Raytheon Co.
AIM-7 Sparrow Program Milestones
The history of the Sparrow missile dates back to 1947, when the US Navy contracted Sperry to develop a guidance system for a High Velocity Aerial Rocket (HVAR). The original designation for this missile was KAS-1 but was later changed to AAM-2 in September 1947 and to AAM-N-2 in early 1948. Eventually, after many improvements and developments, all Sparrow missiles were redesignated in the AIM-7 series.

AIM-7 Sparrow Missile Dimensions
Wing Span
3 feet 4 inch (1 m)
12 feet (3,64 m)
8 inches (0,20 m)

AIM-7 Sparrow Missile Radius & Performance
Combat Radius
Approx. 30 nautical miles
Maximum Speed
Classified Information
Blast fragmentation
Unit Cost

AIM-7 Sparrow
The AIM-7 Sparrow is a versatile missile with radar guidance and a high-explosive warhead. Due to its versatility it is widely deployed by US and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces. It has all-weather, all-altitude operational capability and can attack high-performance targets from practically all directions. The AIM-7 Sparrow is an air-to-air, boost-glide missile and is designed to be launched either by rail or ejection. It can reach supersonic speeds as it has a solid propellant rocket motor installed.

As pointed out earlier, it is widely used by many Air Forces worldwide. During the Persian Gulf war it already showed its importance as air-to-air weapon as it downed 22 Iraqi fixed-wing aircraft together with three Iraqi helicopters. A minor disadvantage, compared to for example the AIM-120 AMRAAM, is the requirement that the aircraft from where it is fired from must continue to point the target with radar, which limits the aircraft from flying straight and level or aiming at other targets.

The AIM-7 Sparrow can be employed during air-to-air combat missions by the F-14 Tomcat, F/A-18 Hornet, F-15 Eagle and F-16 Falcon. It is used primarily to neutralize the threat of high performance enemy aircraft. It has supersonic capability and is equipped with Defensive Counter Countermeasure capabilites in order to protect itself against electronic attack. In flight, the AIM-7 is controlled by four hydraulically powered movable delta wing platforms. When the missile is within lethal range of the target, an active radio frequency fuze detonates the warhead which in turn will destroy the selected target.

A USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15 (AIM-7 Sparrow capable) Eagle in action
The AIM-7 Sparrow can be utilized by the F-15 Eagle
A McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle (AIM-7 Sparrow capable) taking off
Examples of aircraft that are AIM-7 Sparrow compatible...