Known as the "Slammer," the AIM-120 air-to-air missile is one of the deadliest warheads in the U.S. Air Force arsenal.
Fire and Forget
The AIM-120 missile is an advanced medium-range air-to-air missile that can be effectively used day or night and in all weather conditions. The missile has its own internal guidance system, which means it does not have to be guided by a pilot or ground crew after being launched. Military personnel call this type of a warhead a "fire and forget" missile. The AIM-120 missile is known by the nickname the "Slammer" among U.S. Air Force personnel because of its deadly impact and blast damage.
The AIM-120 missile contains a high explosive blast-fragmentation warhead that can be devastating on impact. The AIM-120 missile is primarily used against enemy aircraft – particularly against non-maneuverable planes such as bombers. The missiles are not used often against highly reactive aircraft such as fighter jets, which are capable of quick and fast movements and evasive tactics. The AIM-120 missile can be fired from a variety of different aircraft ranging from Harrier jets to F/A-18 Hornet and F-22 Raptor fighter jets. It is also possible to configure and fire AIM-120 missiles from the ground.
AIM-120 missiles can cost anywhere from $300,000 to $700,000 each depending on the variant. Each missile weighs 335 pounds and is 12 feet long. The missiles first entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1991. The weapon has since been used in military conflicts around the world ranging from the Balkans to the Middle East. A number of other militaries throughout the world also use the AIM-120 air-to-air missile, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom.