How many Air-to-air missile need to shoot down a fighter jet?

air to air missile F-22
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The warhead of air-to-air missiles is generally heavier. Even the short-range air-to-air missiles such as the Sidewinder have a warhead weight of about 15 kilograms, while the long-range air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-54 Phoenix are even heavier. Its warhead weight reached 60 kg, which is heavier than a 155mm shell. Not to mention that these warheads have also been optimized. Even if it is not a direct hit, as long as it is detonated within the effective killing range, even if the fighter cannot be shot down on the spot, it can be seriously damaged.

F-14 Tomcat with AIM-54 AAM
F-14 Tomcat with AIM-54 AAM

It can be said that as long as it can effectively hit, the air-to-air missile is fully capable of launching the fighter into the soul, but the problem lies in this effective hit. You should know that although the performance of air-to-air missiles is constantly improving, there is still a hit rate problem. No missile can guarantee its hit rate of 100%, let alone deal with highly maneuverable targets such as fighter jets. In addition, the fighter’s defense system is also constantly being strengthened. It has been upgraded from the early hot flame bombs and jamming chaffs to various active and passive jamming systems. It is extremely complete. It can be said that fighters without adequate defense systems will not be included in the front line Fight, otherwise, you can only increase the opponent’s win record.

The design of early air-to-air missiles was basically used to deal with poorly maneuverable targets such as bombers, patrol aircraft, and their anti-jamming capabilities were also very poor. As long as fighter pilots spotted the other party launching air-to-air missiles in time, they could fully maneuver and release interference through large angles. The missile, even flying towards the sun, can make the early air-to-air missiles with narrow field of view and poor anti-jamming capability lose their targets.

According to the statistics of the U.S. military in the Vietnam War, whether it is an infrared-guided “AIM-9 Sidewinder” or a semi-active radar-guided “AIM-7 Sparrow”, it is very good to be able to achieve one hit with ten rounds. Of course, it must be said that the U.S. airforce poor performance of the missile is not only related to the technical level of the time but also to the lack of pilot training, lack of understanding of the missile’s shooting envelope and characteristics, not to mention improper storage in the tropical jungle environment, high temperature and high humidity environment leading to the failure of sensitive components.

AIM-120 AMRAAM | 3D CAD Model Library | GrabCAD

Even today, with the rapid development of microelectronics technology, it is difficult for skilled pilots to ensure that the missiles they launch can accurately hit enemy aircraft. A few years ago, an old-fashioned Su-22 attack aircraft of the Syrian Air Force approached the US military base. After warning to no avail, the “Super Hornet” fighter that protected the US military base launched a state-of-the-art AIM-9X infrared. The guided short-range air-to-air missile did not make a hit. The U.S. pilot again fired an AIM-120 active medium-range missile and it mat contact and shot down Su-22. According to sources, the Su-22 attack aircraft was piloted by a brigadier-level pilot of the Syrian Air Force. It can be seen that the performance of modern air-to-air missiles cannot be as successful as shown in the movie.

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