I was kinda wondering about the Phoenix

Death (permanent) of the Phoenix (Oct 15, 2004 entry)

The AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missile has been retired. It protected our fleet for thirty years.

Over 5,000 were built, but the Phoenix never shot down anything in combat. There are unconfirmed reports of Iranian F-14s using Phoenix missiles to down Iraqi aircraft during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. Iran was the only foreign nation to receive the Phoenix, and it was rumored that American technicians disabled Iran’s 285 Phoenix missiles before leaving the country (when Islamic rebels overthrew the monarchy in 1979.) One Phoenix was fired during the 1991 Gulf War, at an Iraqi helicopter. It missed.

I knew that the earlier versions of the F/A-18 Hornet could not fire the Phoenix, but I was hoping that the newer Super Hornets could, since they are replacing the F-14. The AIM-120 AMRAAM has replaced the Phoenix, but its range of around 20 miles is only one-fifth the range of the Phoenix.


  1. Ah, sorry to correct you murdoc, but the AMRAAM was a replacement for the AIM-7 Sparrow, not the Phoenix

  2. Lloyd: Yes, you’re right that the AMRAAM wasn’t developed as a replacement for the Phoenix. But it has taken over the mission of the Phoneix since there’s no direct Phoenix replacement coming. That’s what I was getting at, and I noted the range differnce to highlight a potential downside of using a medium-range AA missile for a long-range mission. Thanks for pointing out the what I wrote was potentially misleading. I hope this comment clears up the reality of the situation and also clears up what I meant by what I wrote.

  3. Now we have a short range F-18 with Short range Amraam’s replacing the Grand old long range F-14 and its Massively Ranged Phoenix. If we had kept the F-14 / Phoenix would that have been a thorn in the side of the advocates for big carrier escorts (cruisers/DDX) with long range SAM’s ?

  4. It’s me again. I’ve done some looking around, and it seems that the current plan is to increase the range of the AMRAAM bit-by-bit, and (eventually)produce a long-range, ramjet-powered derivative to replace the Phoenix.