In 1956 the AIM-4 Falcon missile became the world’s first fully guided Air-to-Air missile to enter operational service. The origins of the Falcon missile can be traced back to 1947 when the United States Air Force initiated a competition for a combination fire control system and guided missile for installation on their future high performance interceptors. Hughes Aircraft Company won the competition for both the fire control system and the guided missile. Initially known as the GAR-1 Falcon, the 1962 tri-service rationalization of the U.S. Forces the Falcon was redesignated the AIM- 4 Falcon. The Falcon had been paired up with different versions of the Hughes Fire Control system in such aircraft as the F-89H Scorpion, F-101 Voodoo, F-102 Delta Dagger and the F-106 Delta Dart. Depending on the version, the Falcon missile was guided to it’s target either by an infrared red or semi active radar guidance system. The AIM-4B, AIM-4C, AIM-4D and AIM-4G used infrared guidance, while the AIM-4A, AIM-4E and AIM-4F used the semi active radar guidance. The Falcon was finally retired from U.S. Air Force service in the late 1980’s.
The purchase of the CF-101B Voodoo in the early 1960’s the RCAF also purchased the AIM 4D Falcon and AIR-2A Genie rocket to arm the aircraft. The CF-101B could carry two Falcons and two Genies in its rotary weapons bay. The Falcon continued to operate as the primary weapon system for the Voodoo until the its retirement in the mid-1980s.
Entering operation service in 1963, over 12,000 AIM 4D’s were produced. 4,000 of these were new-built and more than 8,000 others remanufactured from AIM-4A and AIM-4C missiles. This version was optimized for the air-combat role. It was a hybrid version, combining the small airframe of the earlier Falcon’s with the more powerful rocket motor and advance infrared seeker of the larger AIM-4G. This created a short-range but very fast missile.
AIM-4D Falcon Specifications:
Manufacture – Hughes Aircraft Company
Type – Air -to-Air Passive infrared seeker
Propulsion – Solid fuel rocket motor
Launch Weight – 61 kg (134 lb)
Speed – Mach 4
Range – Approximately 9600 m (10,500 yards)
Warhead – 13.18 kg (29.4 lb) with proximity fuse