Special Report

The Bombs and Missiles Used by the US Military

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. AGM-183 ARRW
> Bomb type: Strategic weapon
> Service branch user(s): U.S. Air Force
> Made by: Lockheed Martin

The AGM-183 Air Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, represents the cutting edge of hypersonic missile development and may soon be the latest addition to the arsenal of the U.S. Air Force. The ARRW has a range of over 1,000 miles and can reach speeds above Mach 5 before delivering its payload through a non-powered glide vehicle that maneuvers to the target.

After a series of setbacks, including three failed tests and additional budget request requirements, the Air Force conducted its first successful test of the missile system on May 14, 2022. The ARRW is slated for integration onto B-1 and B-52 bombers, as well as F-15 fighter jets – though exactly when ARRW missile is fielded remains to be seen.

Source: ewg3D / iStock via Getty Images

7. AGM-65 Maverick
> Bomb type: Air-to-surface weapon
> Service branch user(s): U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force
> Made by: Raytheon and Northrop Grumman

Used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War, the AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-surface missile system with a range of 20 miles. A versatile system, the Maverick can be fitted with warheads that detonate on impact as well as 300 pound warheads on a time delay that detonate after penetrating the target. Mavericks are effective against a range of targets, including tanks, vehicles, ships, air defenses, and buildings.

Maverick missiles were used widely in Iraq – both in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom – as well as Afghanistan. Maverick missiles are used by some Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts, F-15s, and F-16s, as well as Navy P-3, AV-8, and F/A-18 aircraft.

Source: usnavy / Flickr

8. AGM-84K SLAM-ER
> Bomb type: Air-to-surface weapon
> Service branch user(s): U.S. Navy
> Made by: Boeing

The AGM-84K Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response, or SLAM-ER, was the Navy’s first weapon with automatic target acquisition capabilities, making it highly accurate even in cluttered combat environments. Effective against both moving and stationary targets, SLAM-ERs can also avoid most infrared countermeasures.

Deployed since June 2000, the 1,500 pounds 172 inches long SLAM-ERs can be launched and controlled by F-18 and P-3 aircraft. In October 2020, the U.S. State Department approved the sale of 135 SLAM-ER missiles to Taiwan for just over $1 billion.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

9. AGM-86 ALCM
> Bomb type: Strategic nuclear weapon
> Service branch user(s): U.S. Air Force
> Made by: Boeing

The AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile, or ALCM, is a nuclear strike weapon with a small radar signature designed for strategic surface targets. The missile is outfitted with a W80-1 nuclear warhead and can fly over 1,500 miles at speeds up to 550 mph.

Carried by B-52 bombers, the ALCMs are a key component of the U.S. nuclear triad. The other two components of the triad are long-range land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and long-range submarine-launched ballistic missiles

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10. AGM-88e AARGM
> Bomb type: Air-to-surface weapon
> Service branch user(s): U.S. Air Force
> Made by: Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK, and Northrop Grumman

The AGM-88e Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile, or AARGM, is a weapon designed to target enemy air defenses and guidance radars, specifically surface-to-air missile systems. The missile can surpass Mach 2 speeds and carries a WAU-7/B warhead.

The system is currently integrated onto Navy F-18s, as well as F-16s and F-35s. It was developed as a replacement of the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile, or HARM, which proved deficient in Operation Iraqi Freedom. A single extended range AGM-88 costs a reported $6.1 million.

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