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One of the world’s most technologically advanced tactical guided missiles, the Phoenix was the first operational radar-guided air-to-air missile that could be launched in multiple numbers against different targets from an aircraft. The Phoenix, coupled with the AWG-9 fire control system, was the heart of the F-14 Tomcat, the only aircraft that carried the Phoenix, and was the principal air-to-air Navy long-range missile for 30 years. The AWG-9 could track up to 24 targets simultaneously and launch up to six Phoenix missiles nearly simultaneously. With a range of over 100 miles, the Phoenix gave the F-14 the greatest standoff engagement capability of any fighter in the world. Beginning in 1962, Phoenix was designed and produced by Hughes Aircraft, with Raytheon joining the program in 1988. Much of the testing was done on the Sea Range at at Point Mugu, CA. The Phoenix/AWG-9 was originally intended as the main armament of the F-111B, then planned to become the Navy’s air superiority fighter and long-range interceptor. While the Phoenix test program continued, the F-111B was canceled, and the Phoenix and AWG-9 were incorporated into the new F-14 Tomcat, which was to take over the role of the F-111B. The AIM-54 has been retired from U.S. Naval service, but is still used by Iranian F-14s, having been sold to Iran before the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
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