The radar-guided, air-to-air Sparrow AIM-7 in various models has been in production for over thirty years and is used by both the Air Force and the Navy. This missile is still used today on USN aircraft, although the higher-capability Advanced, Medium-Range, Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) has replaced it as the first-line air-to-air missile.

Sea Sparrow RIM-7 is a ship-launched version used in the Basic Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS). When compared to the AIM-7, the RIM-7 version has a more rapid run-up (ready to fire), folding wings and clipped tail fins. Guidance modifications include fuzing better adapted to low-altitude targets, ground clutter filters and the ability to discriminate between different illuminators.

Because it was semiactively guided, Sea Sparrow originally required an illuminating radar directed at the target all the way from launch to kill. Latter mods incorporate an autopilot, requiring illumination only as the missile closes with the target.


Designation Aircraft Launched: AIM-7
Ship Launched: RIM-7
Ship Class Used On Many
Date In Service 1976 (Model M)
Weight 2,980 lbs. (1,341 kg)
Dimensions 12 feet (3.64 meters) long x 8 inches (20.3 cm) diameter
Wing Span:
  • AIM: 40.6 in (103 cm)
  • RIM: 25 in (63.5 cm)
Payload 86 lbs. (39 kg) WAU-17/B blast fragmentation
Range Classified, but more than 30 nm (55 km) in current versions
Speed More than 2,660 mph (4,260 kph)
Propulsion Hercules MK-58 solid-propellant rocket motor


Data from:

  • "The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems 1991/92" by Norman Friedman
  • US Navy Fact File