Hughes AIM-95 Agile - Off boresight before it was cool

(Largely plagiarized from MAKEthemSUPPER@live 's old form suggestion)

Hello, I would like to suggest the possibility of adding the AIM95A “Agile” missile to the game in order to improve the capabilities of existing and perhaps future aircraft.


It took me a great deal of research to find information on this darn thing. Most of the research came from this forum: AIM-95 Agile and AIM-82 AAMs | Secret Projects Forum

Plenty of speculation and compromise are to be had; do with this what you will.

Aim95a agile is a short range A2A missile designed, basically, to replace a plane’s guns. Roll your eyes all you wish, this thing almost managed to do just that.


In the late 60s, there came a need for an actual dogfight missile. Before this, analysts of all sorts made extravagant claims about the potential of missiles to replace guns at all ranges, but not a single such missile were present.

In 1968 the navy endeavored to fix that. Thus, soon came to fruition the XAIM-95 “AGILE,” built by Hughes Aircraft Company. This missile was intended to completely replace the Aim9 as a missile on Navy aircraft, and made a surprising amount of progress up until it’s cancelation in 1975. The responsibility for the guidance group was given to Hughes, and in turn (and not surprisingly), Thiokol was responsible for the propulsion system.

Around this time, the Air Force became involved in their own project, the AIM-82. This particular project never left the drawing board; after a congressional review, the Air Force was made to cancel the AIM-82 in favor of fielding the much more progressed and thus far proven AGILE system. The AGILE utilized an IR sensor, but there were tests for an ER sensor and an additional plan were created for Radar guidance, but the most former were the main intention.

Numerous tests were carried out on China Late, testing its ability to be mounted to multiple aircraft and its flight performance, between 1970 and 1974.

In the meantime, while the AIM95 were maturing, the AIM-9L was proposed as a stopgap and a short-term solution until untis could field AGILE. However…ultimately, in 1975, it was decided that AGILE was too expensive, and it was ultimately scrapped, with the proposed stopgap, the AIM9L, serving on until the completion of the program.

List of Known or Suggested Values:


Mass: 135kg (no source)

Caliber: 8 Inches (Engineering Model)

Length: 94 Inches (Engineering Model), 100 Inches (AGILE Gimbal Nozzle Mechanics Investigation)

Impulse: 30,000 lb-sec (Engineering Model)

Thrust: UNKNOWN (To be updated)

Vector Angle: 20 degrees (AGILE Gimbal Nozzle Mechanics Investigation)

G-Load: 50g (טילים ורקטות בלוחמה המודרנית)

Seeker: Hughes, model unknown

Gimbal: +/- 165 degrees (Aviation Archives: AIM-95 Agile Missile)


Warhead: HE-FRAG (No Source)

Potential loadouts:


6x for F4-based craft in two packs of 3 (validated on both f4b and f4j using same pylon as aim9)

4x on f8-based craft using 4 single packs; one on each of the side-mounted pylons, and one beneath each wing.

2x on A7-based crafts in single packs.

2x on F-86H

= 1x on F9F-8


Below sourced from: AGILE Gimbal Nozzle Mechanics Investigation AIAA article 73-1205.


Showcases length, width, and engine gimbal vector limit.


More images of AIM92 and data pertaining to it.

Closeup of gimbal.

From “Aviation Week,” June 22, 1970, explaining the early concept of the AIM-95’s performance goals.

Phil Ankeney AGILE Program Director; L. S. McDonald, NAVAIR AGILE Manager, and C. W. “Zip” Mettenburg, NWC AGILE Program Manager, review the launch tube mockups used in loading and storing the AIM-95 AGILE missile, China Lake, 29 January 1971.

Lt. Carl Cline standing beside an aim95A. This missile’s pretty big, and yet this is still smaller than an aim9 in height.

Mounted to an f14; china lake. 06 December 1973

Agile, mounted to an F4j (specified; BuNo 153812 in all photos; flown at china lake.) In this configuration, the missile were housed in a pack, out of the way of the sparrow housings, in a grouping of 3 each for a total of 6 missiles on the plane.

Below is a section of the 1974 fiscal conference relating to the Agile in PDF form, from which the extrapolated similarities can be gleaned.


Link to the original suggestion


What do you guys think? Have any more info? Discuss!



Removed old specifications, and added new ones with cited sources
Corrected inaccuracies with SEAM, and rocket motor



“Engineering Model”

“AGILE Gimbal Nozzle Mechanics Investigation”

Aviation Archives: AIM-95 Agile Missile

“טילים ורקטות בלוחמה המודרנית”


Quick tip regarding the motor burntime, it can be seen in the video you posted that it burns for atleast 14 seconds and is still burning when the vid cuts out. It also doesnt look like its rocket motor thrust changed during said burn (no visual reduction in intensity of burn) so I suspect that entire burn is at roughly the same level of thrust!



If it helps we know the total impulse imparted be the motor is 30,000 lb-sec, so gives an upper limit when combined with other derived metrics could help adjust drag, like burn time and mass. It might be worth attempting to track down a copy of NWC TP 5578 to see if it had more detail.

Motor excerpt


As per the following excerpt there were at least 4 seeker seekers developed (2 each by the USAF and USN) for the AIM-95, the two relevant are the Navy designs(DD-1[AIM-9L] & DD-2) one with similar performance to the AIM-9L (of which we have access to a number documents that provide range charts for the AIM-9L (@Gunjob or @Flame2512 could probably assist as they have access to manuals, and evidence for the Lock-on range increase for AIM-9L’s on the Tornado after a modification of the launch rail), including the SMC, which gives a range chart among others so it might be worth taking a look at the AIM-9L topic) this is due to the fact that the basic design was deliberately made to be quite conservative, so if implemented Gaijin has options for a Later R-73M equivalent if need be.



Article text


April 4, 1977

Fighter, Missile Gains Pressed

BYLINE: By Clarence A. Robinson, Jr.


LENGTH: 2219 words


HIGHLIGHT: Navy, USAF joint test in Nevada spurs advances in tactics, seeker sensitivity, avionics requirements for next decade

Navy and Air Force fighter aircraft tactics, air-to-air missile seeker sensitivity and aircraft avionics requirements for the next decade are expected to emerge from a highly unorthodox test being conducted jointly by the two services at Nellis AFB, Nev.

The $55-million test program is the air intercept missile evaluation/air combat evaluation and is known by the acronym Aimval/Aceval. Located at Nellis AFB, 10miles north of this city, is the Cubic Corp.'s air combat maneuvering instrumentation system designed to provide realistic air-to-air training with simulated missile firing.

An advanced version of the earlier Navy air combat maneuvering range, the instrumentation system is used in a 40-naut.-mi.-dia. area in the desert north of Nellis to provide Realtime data on aerial combat taking place here on a daily basis.

Tactics evolving from the simulated dogfighting are already flowing to squadrons in both services. The USAF/McDonnell Douglas F-15 and Navy/Grumman F-14 are pitted against a common foe – the Northrop F-5E used to simulate the Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed fighter. Performance characteristics of the F-5E closely approximate the USSR fighter.

Both services have selected the most highly qualified fighter pilots available for the test, and this includes the F-5E aggressor force comprising pilots from both services. The aggressor, or Red, aircrews are highly trained and are considered the equivalent of combat-experienced Israeli pilots, according to test officials.

The aerial combat is free play, requiring visual identification of targets before an attack can be initiated. To keep both Blue Force friendly pilots and Red Force pilots honest in visual target acquisition, intruder aircraft are flown through the combat maneuvering area on a random basis while dogfights are in process.

Both Red and Blue Force pilots are forced to engage a numerically superior enemy force at least 50% of the time, and the numbers range from one on one to two on one. Within the aerial combat scenarios, as many as four fighters engage four aggressor aircraft on the range.

Despite the excellent data being extracted from the test, according to officials in both services, there is an effort afoot to halt or at least delay the test.

Analysts from both services are questioning whether there is a problem with some of the seeker sensitivity data being generated from the missile evaluation portion of the program. Service officials, however, believe that while there may be a question about the seeker sensitivity data it would affect only 10% of the combat engagements in the test.

“The best way to handle the problem, if there is one, is to manipulate the data to cover the seeker problem, not halt the test,” one official said. “We are learning more about aerial combat than we ever dreamed possible.”

Other officials are convinced that the attempt to delay or halt the test is related to an effort to invalidate it because one of the fighters is not meeting its pre-test service projections about its capability.

One of the major problems in conducting this type of a flight test is that the immediate tendency is to make a comparison between the F-15 and the F-14 because both fighters are flying against a common foe. The test is not designed for this purpose, and even after all of the data have been analyzed, a comparison between the two aircraft will not be possible, test officials emphasized. What is being determined by the aerial combat simulation is that both aircraft are exhibiting superior performance, and that both have some problems that need to be corrected.

The test is divided into two phases taking place over a 10-month period. The air intercept missile phase is scheduled to be completed in early June, with a final report for the air combat evaluation portion scheduled for December.

More than 4,000 sorties will have been flown here before the test is concluded, and both friendly and aggressor pilots have been honing their skills for almost a year with daily flights, including a warm-up period leading up to the test.

The missile phase of the test includes:

  • Defining requirements for future short-range air-to-air missiles.
  • Evaluation of five infrared missile concepts.

Because of the intensity of aerial combat necessary to complete the missile evaluation, some of the aerial combat evaluation data will be gleaned from the missile evaluation.

During the air combat evaluation, the Pentagon and the two services expect to determine the relative effectiveness of opposing fighters and to provide data for deciding on future fighter force structure and composition.

the missile portion of the test is being flown to determine if the two services can use a common air-to-air missile and, if so, what degree of off-boresight capability is required and what degree of seeker sensitivity. In developing a missile to replace the AIM-9L advanced Sidewinder, the Navy pressed for the Agile missile with a large off-boresight capability and thrust vector control. The air force wanted a low-cost lightweight missile.

Congress denied both programs and told the two services to pursue a joint missile definition program. The missile phase of the test is to determine what will be required in the missile.

Both of the services have developed seeker heads to support the test, and the seekers are being captive-carried on both the F-15 and the F-14 with simulated firings against the aggressor aircraft to determine the seeker capability in a variety of air maneuvering situations.

The aggressor F-5Es are armed with the Raytheon AIM-9L, which simulates the all-aspect seeker sensitivity that the USSR could have available in the Atoll missile through the 1980s.

USAF’s conceptual missile is called the SS-1 and is being evaluated in the dogfight tests using two modes of acquisition labeled Concept A and B. The two concepts are identical except for target acquisition.

Ford Aerospace has produced the SS-1 captive test unit for USAF, and Concept A utilizes boresight acquisition while B has a higher off-boresight capability, up to + -30 deg.

For the Nellis test, both the A and B concepts are represented by a cruciform-configured, canard-controlled missile with a seeker sensitive to a single color in the optical spectrum.

The tracker is a conventional free gyro/precession coil employing lead bias. Missile performance is in an envelope that includes an all-aspect capability against an afterburning target, and nearly all-aspect against an aircraft in a military power setting.

USAF accepted the limited forward aspect capability as a trade for reduced cost, manpower, equipment support and increased reliability from the elimination of gas cryogenics.

Employment of the SS-1 is characterized by:

  • Multiple missile carriage, with up to eight missiles on the fighter. for the test eight missiles are simulated.
  • Simultaneous automatic acquisition.
  • Pilot consent automatic sequential launch.

In the Concept A mode, the pilot must maneuver his aircraft to place the target within the caged seeker field of view. The pilot has a circular scan function available that can be selected by depressing the scan button on the throttles. When the pilot depresses the weapon release button, all the missiles are permitted to lock-on and track the target.

The first missile within the normal launch sequence to lock on, determined by a signal above the target signal-to-noise ratio, is automatically fired. Other missiles are automatically launched at 1.5-sec. intervals if locked on and the release button is depressed by the pilot. If a missile is not locked on it will not launch.

If the weapon release button is released at any time by the pilot, the launch sequence is stopped. When the button is released all missile that are locked on are re-caged to the boresight position.

The Concept B missile functions the same way, except that the seeker can be slaved to an acquisition and the Northrop visual target acquisition system or radar for off-boresight acquisition up to 30 deg. When the launch sequence is stopped, the seeker returns to alignment with the acquisition aid rather than to the boresight position.

The B concept’s scan mode also is different. Circular scan is available while the seeker is in the slave mode. When not slaved to an acquisition aid and scan is selected, the scan pattern becomes vertical through the position.

The Navy captive test unit is the SS-2 and encompasses two variants, the D1 and D2 missile concepts, Both are based on heads-up, high off-boresight angles, target designation and slaving the seekers.

The visual target acquisition system is the basic method used for off-boresight target acquisition and supplements other aircraft acquisition modes.

The D1 seeker has about the same acquisition sensitivity as the AIM-9L seeker, while the D2 has increased sensitivity, providing longer detection ranges than present short-range, air-to-air missiles. This is particularly true in the head-on/forward quarter aspects. The off-boresight capability of 70 deg. for both the D1 and D2 seekers is designed for use against the projected threat armed with the equivalent of the AIM-9L in the 1980-1990 period.

The captive test units are mounted on both the F-14 and F-15 for the test, using modified LAU-7A missile launchers on pylons on each side of the aircraft. When either of the D concept modes is employed in the test, each aircraft carries two SS-2s, which will simulate four missiles.

Concept D1 and D2 captive test units are medium wavelength infrared seekers mounted on a aluminum/steel airframe. Electronics, power supply and interface unit are contained within the 6.5-in. dia. airframe.

The seeker employs a three-axis gimbal system with a rotating optical telescope derived from the Agile missile program. Hughes Aircraft Co. produced the D1 and D2 seekers for the test. A translucent infrared dome is constructed from a hemisphere mated to a cylinder, allowing seeker viewing angles up to gimbal limits.

A single color-crossed array detector is used in conjunction with the rotating optical telescope to produce tracking errors. The error signals are processed by the guidance and control group and drive the gimbal system to maintain track.

Seeker field of view is 3.7 deg. along the principal axes of the detector array. The detector is cooled with argon gas supplied through an umbilical harnessed to a gas bottle on the LAU-7A launcher.

Seeker lock-on and launch is accomplished using two methods – normal and quick fire. The aircrew receives both visual and audio cues when the seeker is locked on. With the seeker locked on, the aircrew activates the missile firing switch to simulate missile launch.

Using the visual target acquisition system, an illuminated helmet-mounted sight reticle remains lighted constantly until the off-boresight angle limits are exceeded. The reticle blinks at a 2 cycles/sec. rate when the angle has been exceeded.

The reticle blinks at an 8-cycle/sec. rate at lock-on when the target is within the off-boresight angle limit. Audio cues are used to denote target detection and lock-on. The synthetically generated tone is produced when the present infrared threshold is exceeded. In the D1 concept it is similar to the AIM-9L threshold, and lowered for greater sensitivity with the D2.

The F-5E aggressor aircraft in the test are configured with an AIM-9L training missile mounted on the right wingtip launcher rail with an airborne instrumentation subsystem pod for the air combat maneuvering range system mounted on the left wingtip launcher rail. The training AIM-9L can only be operated in a boresight, non-scan mode for acquisition.

The Block 90 F-14As taking part in the test required extensive hardware and software changes. They include:

  • Maneuvering slats. Slat extension/retraction occurs concurrently with selection of maneuvering flaps.
  • Central air data computer with high angles of attack, the flight stick utilizes rudder instead of differential stabilizer for roll control.
  • Second UHF radio, replacing the ARC-51 with the ARC-150 (V)5 solid-state radio for a 20-w. output increase.
  • Lower pylon Sidewinder adapter. Stations 1B and 8B can carry the AIM-9L missile.

The Honeywell visual target acquisition system – a dual cockpit system – has been installed by Hughes. Both the pilot and flight officer are able to slave the missile seekers off-boresight with the visual target acquisition system. All seekers slave to either crewmember’s line of sight. The pilot is dominant if simultaneous slaving occurs in both cockpits.

The visual target acquisition system is used in the F-15 and provides target acquisition capability by determining the pilot’s line of sight to the target. The system uses infrared light beams, which are generated by two transmitters and detected by four helmet-mounted sensors. The sensors supply information to the target acquisition computer for line-of-sight computation. The line-of-sight direction as seen through the helmet sight piece is sent by the computer to the missile seeker which is slaved to the system. The system is used on the F-15 only with the Navy’s D concept seekers.

The above excerpt lists 70 degrees

The D1 seeker has about the same acquisition sensitivity as the AIM-9L seeker, while the D2 has increased sensitivity, providing longer detection ranges than present short-range, air-to-air missiles. This is particularly true in the head-on/forward quarter aspects. The off-boresight capability of 70 deg. for both the D1 and D2 seekers is designed for use against the projected threat armed with the equivalent of the AIM-9L in the 1980-1990 period.

It’s mentioned in many places that other sensors e.g. IRST or Radar can slave the Seeker.

The visual target acquisition system is the basic method used for off-boresight target acquisition and supplements other aircraft acquisition modes.

additionally I have found the following evidence for the following airframes.
F9F-8 AIM-95
F-8 & F-4:
AIM-95 F-8 & F-4

A-7 AIM-95

A-6 AIM-95

The above article excerpts make mention of the F-14A & F-15A being fitted, in various configs (up to 8x AIM-95 / -82).

it was at very least investigated alongside a HMS (VTAS III; AN/AVG-8B among others) for the F-16 so while certainly the weakest link presented could serve easily as in interim between the AIM-9L or -9M and the -9X.


I would recommend revising the OP and stating only known information. There can be no guesswork or make believe stats with these if possible or it could lead to balancing issues at a later date once things do change.

Post updated, improved accuracy of missile specs. Also, I’ve sent an email to the China Lake Museum where they seem to have one on display so will update with details soon too.

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Thanks and adjustments below:


Yep, found and corrected!

No idea what impulse actually means, but added it. Thanks!


Added, thank you!

+1. I dont think devs would add it to F86 and F9Fs but it would greatly help the F4s

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Would be awesome to have an F-8H with AIM-95s at 10.7+, depending on how easy they are to flare and their range, and I think they should be given to the F-14D once it is eventually added (along with HMS).
The F-4J and S could also get them, again, depending on the sensitivity/range.


For an overview I would recommend reading the following page(s) in its entirety.

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That’s a +1, would love to see an F-8, maybe a J model, to get this kind of stuff.
Real neat tbh

I don’t understand how the AIM-95 (assuming 13-15s burn time) has ~133-150kn of thrust total and missiles much larger (and newer, with better propellants) have less…

In the forum you mention I did see this picture that you haven’t included

(It won’t let me use a capture or copy the link to show it, but the image is on a post from Feb 2nd, 2007 by Overscan)

Yeah that seems… off

Gonna have to try to find some documentation on its motor because that would make it double the 27ER’s booster thrust for more than 5x as long. That’s simply not possible.

This one?
F-14A & AIM-95

Okay, so the thruster was [similar] to the 7F sparrow, but unfortunately all the details are redacted. Will have to follow up


Looks like the seeker would’ve been longer ranged than the 9L’s but the seeker FOV would’ve been wider

Yeah that one.

Okay, so I still need to find data on the seeker head, warhead, and a little more on the engine would be cool. Am I missing anything else? Also, if anyone here has any ideas please lmk.

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I put FOIA in for both the Hughes and Ford seeker reports.

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