U.S. AIR LAUNCHED CRUISE MISSILE


AGM-86A ALCM - credit U.S. Air Force

WARHEAD   -  NUCLEAR W-80 NUCLEAR WARHEAD 250 KILOTON YIELD
             CONVENTIONAL 1,000+ LB. FRAGMENTARY OR BUNKER
             BUSTER WARHEAD WITH ROCKET ASSIST PENETRATION
RANGE     -  750 MILES A VERSION 
             1,500 MILES B VERSION
WING SPAN -  9 FT. 5 IN. A VERSION
             12 FT. B VERSION
LENGTH    -  14 FT. A VERSION
             20 FT. 9 IN. B VERSION
DIAMETER  -  25 IN.   
WEIGHT    -  1,900 POUNDS A VERSION
             2,825 POUNDS B VERSION
ENGINE    -  ONE F-107-WR-100 WILLIAMS TURBOFAN 600 LBS. THRUST
GUIDANCE  -  GPS, TERCOM AND IR/RADAR IMAGING SYSTEM WITH
             ACCURACY OF +/- 1 METER
SPEED     -  CRUISE MACH .65 - TERMINAL MACH 1.1 B VERSION 

AGM-86B - rocket assisted bunker "buster"

The Boeing air launched cruise missile (ALCM) uses the same engine and similar guidance systems as the BGM-109 Tomahawk. The USAF originally intended the ALCM as a nuclear strike weapon but has since modified the A model into conventional warhead B models.

The new B models have extended range fuel tanks and larger warhead capacity than the older nuclear A models. The B model is 30% longer and has a 25 degree wing sweep. The B model can be equipped with a variety of conventional and unconventional warheads including non-lethal energy warheads such as High Frequency RF, EMG, or microwave generators designed to knock out enemy electronics.

The variety of warheads has also served to confuse USAF target planners. One 1997 strike of "fragmentary" warhead equipped AGM-86Bs was targeted at an Iraqi hardened bunker. The fragmentary warheads exploded harmlessly outside the bunker, causing no damage. A second strike of a bunker buster 1,000+ pound AGM-86B had to be targeted against the Iraqi bunker to destroy it.

The U.S. used about 90 AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise missiles (ALCM) during Desert Fox. All the USAF launched ALCM cruise missiles were Block 1 types equipped with heavy conventional warheads for bunker busting. The bunker busters are equipped with a rocket assisted booster for added penetration.

The U.S. military is scrambling to replace the highly valuable robot missiles but the Air Force has opted not to purchase new units. Instead, the USAF is upgrading leftover inventories of nuclear B models.

The USAF bought only 200 of the heavy conventional ALCM missiles and has only enough on hand for one more Desert Fox like attack. The firing of 90 for Desert Fox has left the Air Force little choice but to convert 90 more of a remaining 130 formerly nuclear tipped missiles into bunker busters.