TINKER HISTORY: AGM-86B/C/D air launch cruise missile

  • Published
  • By Greg L. Davis
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The AGM-86B/C/D air launch cruise missile is an air breathing missile capable of sustaining subsonic flight using both inertial, Litton terrain contour matching and Global Positioning System guidance. Three distinct versions of the missile consist of the B model with a W80–1 nuclear warhead, the C model with conventional 1,000 pound high explosive blast and fragmentation warhead. The final version is the AGM-86D conventional explosives, but with a penetrating warhead.

Tinker’s role with the air launch cruise missile centers around the sustainment, repair and overhaul of the F107 turbofan engine along with continuing software upgrades. The F107 is a two-shaft engine weighing a mere 146 pounds yet capable of producing 600 pounds maximum thrust. This gives the missile a maximum speed of 500 mph and range in excess of 1,500 miles.

Tinker’s OC–ALC became the ALCM program manager on Oct. 12, 1974, with 3,680 F107 engines having been overhauled by Sept. 30, 2000, the last year of reported numbers on file.

The missile gained notoriety during the opening days of operation Desert Storm in January 1991 as seven B-52s launched 35 missiles to attack targets inside Iraq from stand-off ranges. The missiles follow preprogrammed attack routes after being dropped from the wings of the B-52s. A major cable news network captured multiple missiles as they cruised toward and struck high-value targets with live narration riveting the audience and sending the leadership of Iraq into hiding.

The AGM-86 missile continues to be used by the U.S. Air Force bomber fleet and can be carried internally by the B-52 using the common strategic rotary launcher which reduces parasitic drag and increases the range of the aircraft. The missile is also certified for employment with the B-1B Lancer and B-2A Spirit fleet of bombers.

The U.S. Air Force accepted 1,715 missiles between 1979 and 1986.

Manufacturer: Boeing

Missile type: AGM-86B/C/D

Nickname: ALCM

Power plant: single Williams International F107 engine creating 600 horsepower

In-service dates: 1974-present

Number produced: 1,715

Tinker connection: management, maintenance and repair