B-52 Launching AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile That Can Penetrate Deep Into Enemy Defense

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B-52 Launching AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile That Can Penetrate Deep Into Enemy Defense

Video of a B-52H Stratofortress test launching an AGM-86B air-launched cruise missile over the Utah Test and Training Range during a Nuclear Weapons System Evaluation Program.

The AGM-86B air-launched cruise missiles and AGM-86C/D conventional air-launched cruise missiles were developed to increase the effectiveness of B-52H bombers. In combination, they dilute an enemy’s forces and complicate defense of its territory.

The small, winged AGM-86B/C/D missile is powered by a turbofan jet engine that propels it at sustained subsonic speeds. After launch, the missile’s folded wings, tail surfaces and engine inlet deploy. The AGM-86B is then able to fly complicated routes to a target through use of a terrain contour-matching guidance system. The AGM-86C/D uses an onboard Global Positioning System coupled with its inertial navigation system to fly. This allows the missile to guide itself to the target with pinpoint accuracy.

AGM-86B/C/D missiles increase flexibility in target selection. AGM-86B missiles can be air-launched in large numbers by the bomber force. B-52H bombers carry six AGM-86B/C/D missiles on each of two externally mounted pylons and eight internally on a rotary launcher, giving the B-52H a maximum capacity of 20 missiles per aircraft.

The AGM-86C CALCM differs from the AGM-86B air launched cruise missile in that it carries a conventional blast/fragmentation payload rather than a nuclear payload and employs a GPS aided INS.

An enemy force would have to counterattack each of the missiles, making defense against them costly and complicated. The enemy’s defenses are further hampered by the missiles’ small size and low-altitude flight capability, which makes them difficult to detect on radar.

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Credits: DoD | Roidan Carlson
Derivative Works: AiirSource Military

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