As the Cold War period came to an end, the industry for aerial combat witnesses a series of groundbreaking technological innovation, of which, the stealth was the greatest of all innovations. The revolutionary F-117 and B-2 stealth bombers, alongside the F-22 stealth fighter, stunned the world with their combat capabilities.
This is a video of the earliest version of Iran's ASBMs, the optically guided Khalij-e-Fars (Persian Gulf) missile, with a 300 km range. An active radar homing version called Hormuz was tested later.https://t.co/0D0WMW22pf
— Aᴍɪʀ (@AmirIGM) May 11, 2019
However, the second technological revolution was yet to come, which posed serious repercussions for the United States Air Force, amongst other air forces. In a short period of time, semi-active radar homing (SARH) air-to-air missiles were replaced by the active radar homing (ARH) air-to-air missile as the medium and long-range missile carried by every aerial fighter.
Analysts are fascinated by the exact factors that triggered this technological revolution. Many deduce the 1980s were a revolutionary period in terms of technological innovation.
Active Radar Homing Missile
An active radar homing missile is much more innovative and distinguished as compared to a semi-active radar homing missile. The major difference is within the seeker of the missile, which is powered with its own radar transmitter to connect it with a receiver.
Active radar homing missiles eliminate all these limitations. These aircrafts can be freely maneuvered once they have targeted and launched at an enemy aircraft.
Semi-active missiles, on the other hand, are only powered with a receiver and rely on the radar of the launching aircraft to target an enemy aircraft that the missile has to engage. Needless to say, the SARH is inflexible when compared with modern standards, and it comes with a series of limitations.
… using a millimetric wave active radar homing seeker to ensure accuracy even against moving targets.@Galaxia_militar @AsCoraza @will_pulido @Barbarroja0300h @Ninja998998 @jpartej @AbraxasSpa pic.twitter.com/8MTO6aTMDL
— TRUFAULT 'Historia Militar' (@TRUFAULT) February 8, 2019
The SARH relies on the radar signal of the launching aircraft to keep its radar targeted at the enemy aircraft. In order to guide a SARH missile, the launching aircraft must continue flying towards the enemy aircraft as most radars tend to have a limited range of motion for search.
The SARH missile will break lock and go “dumb” if the launching aircraft is destroyed, or it has been targeted by the missile of the enemy aircraft. The range of the launching aircraft will determine the range of the SARH missile.
If the radar is considerably weak, or if the enemy aircraft has ventured far out of view, the seeker of a SARH missile will not be able to achieve an initial lock in order to proceed with the launch.
Active radar homing missiles eliminate all these limitations. These aircrafts can be freely maneuvered once they have targeted and launched at an enemy aircraft. The missile will fly until its seeker has been activated, allowing it to find its way to the aircraft without navigation.
These missiles are equipped with the “Maddog” mode, which allows the fighter to lock the seeker on the first radar contact that it attains. This feature is incredibly valuable when fighters need to continuously shoot during a sensitive aerial battle. It helps a fast aircraft avoid engagement or being targeted by a missile by initiating the launch of its missiles.