F-15 launching the AIM-4
F-15 flown by "Racer"
Sent in by Murph
One of the things I've learned in my military flying career is to never say never; this picture is a case in point. It hangs on the wall where I work at my "real job," and it shows an F-15, flown by one of my coworkers, carrying AIM-4G's on its wing pylons and launching the second of four missiles. Prior to seeing this picture I had never heard of, and would have scoffed at the notion of the Eagle carrying one of the worst air to air missiles ever built, but one picture is worth a thousand "I told you so's."
The jet in the picture belongs to the test wing at Eglin AFB, and was taking part in testing a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) for the C-141 in the 1993/94 time frame. This test involved firing a missile at an airborne C-141, and seeing if the MAWS would detect it and activate countermeasures. The AIM-4 was used because they were surplus and also due to their short maximum range. I'm also inclined to think (only half jokingly) the Super Falcon's noted inability to hit anything it was shot at probably played a part in its selection. As an old F-106 pilot I know said "I'd rather have a rock to throw at somebody than an AIM-4." The missile was fired outside of its maximum range (no doubt a great relief to the C-141 crew), but its flight path took it through the MAWS detection area, allowing it to do its thing, before the AIM-4 ran out of "steam" and went into the dirt. The launch rails were mounted on the bottom of each of the wing pylons in an inverted "Y" configuration, so a total of four missiles were carried at one time, two on each pylon. The launch was reportedly pretty impressive with plenty of smoke and noise, unlike the AIM-9, which (speaking from personal experience) looks and sounds just like a big bottle rocket. As Paul Harvey would say, "that's the rest of the story" behind this unusual sight.
Photo © by "Racer" and text © by Murph 2003