Because they can precisely track and hunt for their targets, guided missiles are among the most intelligent and lethal bombs on the modern battlefield. Moreover, unlike traditional ballistic missiles with a fixed trajectory, guided missiles can track their targets indefinitely and even change course if necessary. As a result, anti-radiation projectiles equipped with a guided system become more dangerous.

During World War II, the Germans pioneered the development of guided missiles, the Blohm & Voss BV 246 “Hagelkorn,” to bolster their air campaigns against the Brits. It became the foundation for next-generation missiles, such as anti-radiation missiles (ARMs), specifically designed to destroy enemy radio emission sources—radar and communication jammers and radios.

Great nations, including the United States, are racing to develop advanced systems for these armaments, which can be armed with warheads capable of reaching up to 6,000 miles away. Some modern designs can even carry a nuclear warhead and travel worldwide.

Most guided missiles are usually made up of these four key components: the engine, warhead, flight control system, and guidance system. To give you a quick rundown on how this works, the engine propels the missile from the launcher to its target while the warhead safely carries the explosives—or at least until it reaches its target. Meanwhile, the flight control system is in charge of maneuvering the missile and ensuring its accuracy as the guided system searches for and locates the target.

An insight on AGM-88G AARGM-ER. (Source image: NAVAIR)

There are five primary methods of missile guidance, namely, command, active, semi-active, passive, and inertial, which are gaining popularity among modern guided missiles as they can pre-determine their flight path through gyroscopic platforms and GPS. Such systems are advantageous because they do not include electronic emissions from the missile or launch platform—making it harder for enemies to detect the incoming threat and change its course if needed.

US-made Anti-Radiation Missiles

The AGM-88 HARM is undoubtedly one of the twentieth century’s most effective missiles in this class. This supersonic air-to-surface tactical missile evolved from other US ARM weapon systems, including the AGM-45 Shrike, the massive AGM-78 Standard ARM, and the AGM-122 Sidearm was cheapest and lightest of all.

The AGM-45 was ineffective since SAM operators could turn off their radar. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

In the early 1980s, the US Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council approved the design initially made by Texas Instruments, and production began soon after. It officially entered service in 1985 and has played an essential role in the Gulf Wars, Kosovo Wars, Iraq War, the 2011 Military Intervention in Libya, and, most recently, the Russia-Ukraine War.