AM-23 Medium Air to Surface Missile
Max speed: 90km
Max range: 220km
Speed: up to mach 5.5
Warhead: 80kg SAP
Guidance: active radar, and INS/GPS
Propulsion: Variable Flow Ducted Rocket with additional booster
The AM-23 is an Air to Surface Missile derived from the AM-21 ARM
airframe and engine. Primarily designed to attack lighter naval vessels such as destroyers and frigates the AM-23 can also be used against heavier vessels. Should it be needed land targets such as hardened structures can also be successfully attacked.
In terms of missile structure nothing much has been changed however the power plant, guidance package and warhead have all been modified.
In terms of power plant, A Variable Flow Ducted Rocket system with separate booster nozzle similar to that on the AM-21 is used although in this case the throttle system cannot shut off the motor and there is no secondary reignition booster. The removal of the engine restart system has allowed for additional fuel to be carried boosting the range slightly. The parachute system has also been removed resulting in a weight saving.
The guidance package has moved over to a full scale active radar package with a secondary INS/GPS system. The radar is a small AESA array and can be used in a number of modes including full time search, terminal only, home on jam and terrain matching. The backup navigation system is designed to steer the missile towards a specific location and using the navigation system alone the missile has demonstrated a CEP of 10m against fixed targets. To supplement the 2 main guidance options a data link is fitted allowing up dated target coordinates or even new targets to be provided to the missile. The data link also allows control of the missile to be “handed off” from the launch platform to another aircraft or surface platform such as an specialist sensor aircraft.
The warhead is a Semi armour piercing type with a heavy steel shell and a 30kg high explosive fill, the inside of the penetrating shell is prescored and lined with tungsten and zirconium pellets to create significant fragmentation and incendiary effects within the target. The warhead is relatively light by anti shipping missile standard but this is compensated for by the sheer energy produced when the missile hits at maximum speed. Against naval targets the missile is programmed to either strike the side of the target just below the waterline or dive directly down onto the target generally striking the target in the vicinity of its strongest emitting radar set. Against land targets the diving attack is used.
Like the AM-21 the AM-23 is designed with a number of operating modes. The two main modes are max speed and max range. In max speed mode the missile generates maximum thrust from launch and follows a shortest time low level trajectory to the target. In this mode the radar will generally be set operate in full time search mode although it can be set to turn on at approximately 30km from the target. In max range mode the missile throttles back the engine, deploys its wings and cruises at about mach 3-3.5 on a Hi-Lo course. The missile will commence the low level terminal stage at about 50km from the target and will accelerate to the maximum speed, alternatively the missile can be set to follow a high altitude lofted trajectory and dive towards the target. In Max range mode the missile is generally set to only use the radar in its terminal stages although in the event that that a target cannot be fully localised the missile can be launched towards a suspected location and either updated during flight or allowed to fly a search pattern before selecting and engaging its target.