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Hawk Missile System (MIM-23)
The MIM-23 Homing-All-the-Way-Killer (HAWK) missile system is a medium-range, surface-to-air guided missile system designed for air defense. The supersonic Hawk is effective against low-to-medium altitude (100 to 38,000 feet) aircraft and some short-range ballistic missiles. It was designed to work in concert with the NIKE missile with the NIKE targeting high-altitude threats, above the range of Hawk.
History of the MIM-23 Hawk Missile System
The Hawk Missile System was first fired during development in 1955. In May 1958, a HAWK missile successfully engaged an F80 jet target flying at treetop level at White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico, the first intercept of very low altitude aircraft by a missile. It was initially deployed by the U.S. Army in 1959, and by the US Marine Corps in 1960. After deployment, the Hawk was continually upgraded during its service life. The HAWK was deployed by the US Marines at Da Nang and Hill 327, in Vietnam, both the initial USMC deployment of the Hawk and also the first deployment of the Hawk in Vietnam. Following the Persian Gulf War, reports stated that the Hawk downed several enemy aircraft. The Hawk missile system was removed from US Army inventory in the 1980s and USMC by 2002, but remained an active system for decades in at least sixteen other countries. Hawk has been credited with over 80 aircraft kills by US allies.
MIM-23 Hawk Missile System Description and Components
Highly mobile, Hawk is transportable by vehicles, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. The Hawk is employed as a platoon consisting of an acquisition radar, a tracking radar, an identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system, and up to six launchers with three missiles each. The missile is highly reliable, accurate and lethal.
The Hawk missile system upgrade phases included these major changes over a period of almost 40 years:
PIP is Product Improvement Plan, each incorporating multiple upgrades and changes to the base system.
While generally understood to be rugged and reliable, one weakness of the Hawk missile system was complexity of siting. Hawk batteries had strict requirements for locating sites with optimum line-of-sight visibility. Even with computer-assisted planning systems, siting the batteries was a time-consuming task. Reliability was also an issue. Early versions of the Hawk had vacuum tube-based electronics, relatively unreliable until replaced with solid-state upgrades.
Hawk missiles are transported, loaded and launched from two specialized vehicles: the trailer-mounted M192 Hawk Transporter/Launcher and the tracked M501 (XM501E3, XM501L1) Hawk Loader/Transporter. The missiles were mounted in groups of three.
The Hawk missile system cost approximately $25 million for a battery that could fire 48 missiles.
MIM-23 Hawk was superseded by the MIM-104 Patriot by 1994, in the US Army.
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Hawk Missile System (MIM-23) Characteristics