AIM-4 Falcon

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AIM-4 Falcon

Falcon AIM.jpg

General Information
Type Air-to-air guided missile
Manufacturer Hughes Aerospace Group
development 1946
Technical specifications
length 2.02 m
diameter 163 mm
Combat weight 61 kg
span 508 mm
drive Solid propulsion Thiokol M58
speed Mach 3.0
Range 9.7 km
Target location semi-active radar target search or passive infrared
Warhead 3.4 kg fragmentation warhead
Weapon platforms Fighter planes
Lists on the subject

The Hughes AIM-4 Falcon is an infrared or radar-guided air-to-air guided missile produced by the Hughes Aerospace Group .


F-89H with AIM-4 Falcon

Development at the Hughes Aerospace Group began in 1946 under the project name Dragonfly. The AIM-4 was designed to fight bombers . The first test start was carried out in 1949. The guided weapon was designed so that it could be used both from the wings and from the weapon shafts of the fighter planes. The Hughes company supplied the guided weapons as well as the radar systems and fire control equipment for the aircraft. The series production took place in the factory in Tucson from 1954. The first copies were delivered to the US Air Force in 1956 . The AIM-4 was the US armed forces’s first air-to-air guided missile.

The guided missiles were named AAM-A-2 at the beginning of development. In 1955 the designation was changed to GAR-1, respectively. GAR-2 / -3 / -4 changed. The designation AIM-4 Falcon was introduced in 1965.

Exports went to Canada , Finland , Sweden (local name Rb-28), Switzerland (local name HM-58) and Iran .

The AIM-4 formed the basis for an entire family of air-to-air guided missiles that included the AIM-26 Falcon , AIM-47 Falcon, and AIM-54 Phoenix .


From May 1967 F-4D Phantom II used the US Air Force AIM-4D in the Vietnam War . The F-4D could carry two AIM-4 and two AIM-9 Sidewinder that had been developed by the US Navy . It turned out that the AIM-4 was unsuitable for aerial combat. The basic problem was that the infrared seeker head could not be cooled during the entire flight time because the coolant supply was limited. Should the missile be fired, it would take about five seconds for the seeker head to cool - which meant an eternity in aerial combat. If the target could no longer be grasped and the seeker head was cooled several times, the coolant was eventually used up. The lack of a proximity fuse was also unfavorable, as the target had to be hit directly. The AIM-4 was able to shoot down about five Vietnamese aircraft, but it was withdrawn in 1969 in favor of the Sidewinder . The last Falcon were not retired until the F-106 Delta Dart was taken out of service at the end of the 1980s.


AIM-4A and AIM-4G missile line drawings.jpg
  • AIM-4: First series version with semi-active radar search head from 1956; 4,080 pieces produced.
  • AIM-4A: With larger wings, this version was more manoeuvrable than the AIM-4. With improved semi-active radar search head. Of this version, 12,100 pieces were produced.
  • AIM-4B: Version from 1956 with infrared seeker head. A total of 16,000 pieces produced.
  • AIM-4C: Version with improved infrared seeker head. Around 13,000 pieces produced.
  • AIM-4D: Completely revised version from 1963. Developed to combat agile fighter planes. With improved infrared seeker head and new engine of the later AIM-4G. 4,000 new units were manufactured and a further 6,000 AIM-4A and-4C were converted to this standard.
  • AIM-4E: Version from 1958. Specially developed for the F-106A. With a new missile fuselage. With improved seeker head and rocket motor as well as new warhead. 300 pieces were made before production of the later AIM-4F began.
  • AIM-4F: Version with improved electronics and seeker head as well as a larger engine. With a large 13 kg warhead. 19,000 units had been produced by 1975.
  • AIM-4G: Version of the AIM-4F with infrared seeker head; 2,700 pieces produced.
  • XAIM-4H: Prototype with semi-active laser viewfinder; Development stopped in 1971.
  • HM-58 AIM-4C for the J-35 Draken, manufactured under license by Bofors and Saab. They were also referred to as Jaktrobot Robotsystem 28 (RB-28).
  • HM-58S AIM-4C manufactured under license by Bofors and Saab for the Swiss Mirage IIIS.
  • RB-28 see HM-58

Emergency aircraft

An F-106 fired an AIM-4 in 1984

Web links

Commons : AIM-4 Falcon  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Overview of missile weapons (engl.) (Consulted on October 7, 2019)