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Sraam

The meaning of «sraam»

The Short Range Air-to-Air Missile, or SRAAM for short, initially known as Taildog, was an experimental British infrared homing ("heat seeking") air-to-air missile, developed between 1968 and 1980 by Hawker Siddeley Dynamics. It was designed to be very manoevrable for use at short range in a dogfight situation. SRAAM was unusual in that it was launched from a launch tube instead of being attached to a launch rail, allowing two to be carried on single mounting point.

Although initially intended to replace the AIM-9 Sidewinder, it was downgraded to a technology demonstrator program in 1974. Between 1974 and 1977, several SRAAM missiles were launched in tests. In 1980, the knowledge gained from the SRAAM project was used in the ASRAAM missile project.

Early infrared homing missiles had two limitations that made them difficult to use in combat situations. The first was that the seeker was relatively insensitive and required large, hot sources to reliably track a target. In practice, this meant the engine of the enemy aircraft had to remain visible to the missile through the shot. The other was that the seeker had a limited field of view (FOV), meaning it could only see the target if it was in front of the missile. This meant it was possible for the target to escape by flying at right angles to the missile, maximizing its angular velocity relative to the seeker.

These limitations were made clear during the Vietnam War, when early missiles like the AIM-4 Falcon and AIM-9 Sidewinder had success rates on the order of 9 and 14%, respectively. Much of this was due to the fact that pilots had been trained to approach using radar or ground-controlled interception, which placed the enemy aircraft somewhere in front of them, but not necessarily flying in the same direction. In these situations, the seeker might see the target's engine and send the growling signal that indicated lock-on, but would fail to track when fired because the target would move out of the FOV in the time while the missile was flying off the mounting rail.

Faced with these dismal results, the US Navy and then US Air Force introduced new training syllabuses that placed much more emphasis on pre-shot maneuvering, so the launch aircraft would be both behind the target and flying in the same general direction. This would maximize the chance that the target would still be visible to the missile after it was launched. Unfortunately, such maneuvering was both time consuming and potentially difficult to arrange, and in combat there were many situations where a target would cross in front of the fighter in a "snap shot". To provide some capability in these situations, autocannons were hastily added to those fighters that lacked them.

Considering this problem, designers at Hawker Siddeley Dynamics, Hawker's missile division, decided that it would be better to have a missile work like the pilots wanted rather than the pilots working the way the missile wanted. They began designing a missile that would track successfully in every situation where the missile indicated lock-on. In order for this to happen, it would have to have a very wide FOV, or "off-boresight capability", so it would continue to see the target even if it was crossing rapidly. It would also have to have extremely high manoeuvrability so it could successfully track down an aircraft in these situations.

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