AGM-65 Maverick

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The AGM-65 Maverick is a United States air-to-ground missile which is used by all branches of the military except the Army. It utilises infrared television guidance. It replaced the AGM-12 Bullpup in service.


In 1968, the military was in the market for a more modern, accurate air-to-ground missile. Hughes Aerospace was awarded the contract in 1968. The prototype was steered by a small joystick in the aircraft. It was extremely accurate and thus was often used against targets such as radar emplacements.


The AGM-65A went into service in 1972. It is carried by a wide variety of aircraft, including the A-4 Skyhawk, the A-7 Corsair II, the A-10 Thunderbolt, the F-4 Phantom, the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F/A-18 Hornet, the F-117 Nighthawk, the P-3 Orion, the AH-1 Cobra, the Panavia Tornado, and others.[1] The AGM-65B was equipped with advanced optics and could be targeted from farther away; it replaced the AGM-65A in 1978. The current version, the AGM-65F, is still used today.

The Maverick first saw combat soon after its introduction, in the last months of the Vietnam War, and proved to be an effective weapon. Its most extensive use in American service was in the Gulf War, where over 5000 rounds were fired, at a wide variety of targets. Many of them were the then-new G-model, with a heavier warhead. In a friendly fire incident during the Battle of Khafji, one Maverick “went stupid” after launch and plunged straight down right on to an American APC, killing seven Marines.[2] It has since been used in the Kosovo War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Foreign Service

Pre-Revolution Iran had acquired Maverick missiles from the United States, and they saw extensive use during the Iran-Iraq War. Four days after the war began, Iranian F-4 Phantoms used Mavericks to destroy a bridge and a merchant vessel near Basra. Only two missiles were needed for each target.[3] A few months later, on Nov. 29, 1980, Phantom-launched Mavericks scored big time in a naval battle with the Iraqis, sinking eleven warships, including three Osa class missile boats and a minesweeper.[4] AGM-65s also proved devastating to Iraqi armor, and were later operated in anti-shipping strikes on tankers in the Persian Gulf.

The Maverick has been supplied to Israel as well, and AGM-65s were used in the Yom Kippur War, in Lebanon in 1982 in precision strikes on Syrian SAM sites, and again in Lebanon in 2006 against Hezbollah targets.

Popular Media

Mavericks are commonly seen in military adventure novels and techno-thrillers. In the book Force of Eagles, by Richard Herman Jr., the main character, an F-15 pilot, uses a Maverick to score an air-air kill over an attacking MiG[5]


  1. AGM-65 Maverick
  2. Warthog: Flying the A-10 in the Gulf War, by William L. Smallwood, Potomac Books, 1993
  3. Iranian F-4 Phantom II Units in Combat, by Farzad Bishop and Tom Cooper, Osprey Publishing, 2003
  4. Tanker War, 1980-1988
  5. Which is technically feasible as long as the enemy plane doesn’t maneuver too much. Complete surprise is recommended.