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F/A-18C Stores

M61A1 Vulcan 20mm Cannon

The F/A-18C is equipped with an M61 Vulcan internal cannon. The M61 fires standard M50 20mm rounds at 6,000 rounds per minute. It is effective against both surface and air targets. The ammunition drum carries 510 rounds.

The M61 in DCS can be loaded with a mix of live rounds and tracers, or with live rounds only.

AIM-9 Sidewinder

David Monniaux (CC-BY-SA)

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is an infrared-guided (heat-seeking) short-range air-to-air missile. It first entered service in 1956 and has since become one of the most successful missiles in the West. Its longevity is thanks to its versatility and continued improvement over multiple generations.

The AIM-9 uses an array of up to five scanning infrared sensors, cooled by an internal argon bottle (L and M models). The Sidewinder has a maximum speed of over Mach 2.5 and a maximum range of around 10 to 20 miles, depending on the variant. Minimum range is around 3,000 feet.

The AIM-9 can be mounted directly to an LAU-127 on the wingtips, or up to two Sidewinders can be mounted to an LAU-127 mated with an LAU-115C, which adapts to the BRU-32 ejector rack, allowing the missile to be mounted to the underwing pylons.

AIM-9L Sidewinder. The 1977 “Lima” model was the first all-aspect Sidewinder, meaning it no longer required the target to present a rear profile. The AIM-9L earned its first kill when it struck a Libyan Su-22, after being fired from an F-14 Tomcat, in the infamous Gulf of Sidra engagement of 1981.

AIM-9M Sidewinder. The 1982 “Mike” model improved on the Guidance Control Section (GCS). Susceptibility to flares was reduced, and background discrimination was improved, resulting in a greater chance of lock-on. The motor’s smoke signature was reduced, making the missile less likely to be detected.

AIM-9X Sidewinder. The 2003 “X-ray” model is the latest iteration of the Sidewinder. The X-ray adds high off-boresight (HOBS) capability and the ability to slave the seeker head to the JHMCS. The missile’s maneuverability was boosted with all-axis thrust-vectoring capability. These changes allow the pilot to simply “point their head and shoot” in nearly any direction, and the missile will make its way to the target. The infrared sensor was replaced with focal-plane arrays (FPAs) and counter- countermeasures capability was improved further. Electronic fuzing was added to reduce minimum range.

CAP-9M. Captive variant of the AIM-9M. The captive variant has the same size, weight, and drag characteristics as the AIM-9M, for training effectiveness. It also contains an integrated infrared sensor and will provide audio and visual guidance cues to the pilot, but it does not have a motor and does not release from the aircraft.



The AIM-120 AMRAAM is an active radar homing (ARH) medium-range air-to-air missile. First introduced in 1982, the AMRAAM was intended to replace the semi-active radar homing AIM-7 Sparrow, which was the medium- range BVR missile in the US inventory at the time.

The AIM-120 uses both command guidance and radar homing to reach its target. The AIM-120’s integral radar has a comparatively short range, and so until the missile is within that range, it is guided by datalink commands sent automatically from the launching aircraft. The AMRAAM has a maximum speed around Mach 4 and a maximum range of 30 to 40 miles.

The AIM-120 is mounted to the LAU-127, which can be mounted in singles or pairs to LAU-115C, allowing the missile to be mounted to the underwing pylons. It can also be mounted directly to stations 4 and 6.

AIM-120B AMRAAM. This 1994 variant is the earliest variant still in production.

AIM-120C AMRAAM. The 1996 variant improved target detection, homing capability, and fuzing.

AIM-7 Sparrow

CMDR John Leenhouts (USN)

The AIM-7 Sparrow is a semi-active medium-range air-to-air missile. Development on the Sparrow first began in 1949, when it was originally conceived as a beamrider. The AAM-N-2 Sparrow I, this beam-rider variant, entered service in 1954. Later prototypes were active radar-guided, but the first Sparrow to enter widespread production was the AAM-N-6 Sparrow III (later renamed the AIM-7C). The AIM-7E saw extensive use in Vietnam, where 612 were fired, resulting in 56 kills.

The modern AIM-7 has a maximum speed of Mach 4 and an operational range of up to 53 nautical miles, though performance will depend on the intensity of the radar energy reflected from the target. As a semi-active guided missile, the launching aircraft must maintain a continuous radar lock on the target until impact.

The AIM-7 is mounted to the LAU-115C connected to underwing pylons.

AIM-7F Sparrow. The 1976 variant had improved range thanks to a dual-stage rocket motor, solid- state electronics, and a larger warhead than the E model.

AIM-7M Sparrow. The most common variant today, the M was first introduced in 1982 and used extensively during the First Gulf War. Tracking reliability was greatly improved with the use of an inverse monopulse radar. It also added active-radar proximity fuzing, better ECCM, and better performance at low altitudes.

AIM-7MH Sparrow. This is the AIM-7M variant with a newer software version (the H build). The upgraded software improves guidance and loft performance.

AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)

PHAN Jose Cordero (USN)

The AGM-154 is the result of a combined Navy/Air Force venture to produce a precision-guided glide bomb, first introduced in 1988 and first employed during Operation Desert Fox. The AGM-154 uses an INS/GPS guidance system to navigate to its target. The bomb is unpowered, but the extending glide fins give it a range of around 70 nautical miles when dropped from high altitudes. The bomb weighs around 1,000 pounds.

The AGM-154 development program is widely considered to be one of the best successes in project management in the defense industry. The program is often used as an example in the industry and in academia.

AGM-154A. The baseline JSOW has a warhead containing 145 BLU-97/B combined effects submunitions. The submunitions have anti-armor, anti-materiel, and anti-personnel effects. The AGM- 154A is typically used as a SEAD weapon.

AGM-154C. The unitary variant contains an infrared seeker used during the terminal phase and the penetrating BROACH warhead. The BROACH warhead is a two-stage system designed for penetrating hardened bunkers. It consists of the WDU-44 shaped augmenting warhead and the WDU-45 follow- through bomb. The WDU-44 penetrates the armor layer, and the WDU-45 detonates within the interior chambers, amplifying its concussive effects.


Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

The AGM-84D is a turbojet-powered sea-skimming anti-ship missile with over-the-horizon attack capability. The Harpoon uses INS mid-course guidance, then locates and guides to its target using terminal attack radar. It then performs a terminal pop-up maneuver just prior to impact. The missile sea-skims at around Mach 0.7 and contains a 500- pound warhead with impact fuzing. The missile weighs 1,500 pounds.

The AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM) is a land attack variant developed from the Harpoon. The SLAM enhances the INS midcourse guidance with GPS updates, adds infrared-homing terminal guidance and the capability for datalinked seeker head video and datalinked command guidance, and increases the warhead size to 1,000 pounds.

Both variants have a range more than 60 nautical miles.

The AGM-84K SLAM Extended Response (SLAM-ER) is an improvement over the SLAM that greatly improves its range to around 150 nautical miles and adds improved terminal guidance capabilities.


SSGT Scott Stewart (USAF)

The AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) is a passive radar homing air-to-ground missile used in the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) role. The HARM has a radar receiver and processor that detects and identifies signals from enemy surface radars. When launched, it can guide to the target by homing on its specific radar emissions. The missile also has an inertial guidance system to provide mid-course guidance prior to detection of the radar signal (or if the signal is lost).

The AGM-88 has a maximum speed of Mach 1.84 and an operational range of around 80 nautical miles. It uses a laser proximity fuze for detonation.

AGM-88C. This mid-1980s variant incorporates field-reprogrammable software and improved guidance and fuzing.

AGM-65 Maverick

SSGT Glenn B. Lindsey (USAF)

The AGM-65 Maverick is a medium-range air-to-ground missile designed for the close air support role. The AGM- 65 family contains a diverse set of variants and guidance systems, including infrared, electro-optical, and laser guidance.

The AGM-65 has a maximum range of around 13 nautical miles. It was first delivered in 1972. A single Maverick can be mounted to an LAU-117 rack.

AGM-65E Maverick. The E model uses laser guidance, either from the Hornet’s onboard or from another laser emitter. It has a 300-lb penetrating warhead with a delayed fuze.

AGM-65F Maverick. The F model uses an infrared tracking system adapted for the anti-ship role. It has the same warhead as the Maverick E.

AGM-62 Walleye II

Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

The AGM-62 Walleye II is a television-guided glide bomb dating back to 1963 and used principally during the Vietnam War. The original AGM-62 models used image centroid tracking like electro-optical Mavericks; newer models also added datalinked video and command guidance capability.

The AGM-62 has a 2,000-lb high-explosive warhead. Despite being designated “AGM,” the AGM-62 is an unpowered glide bomb.

Mk. 20 Rockeye and CBU-99

Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

The Mk. 20 Rockeye is a 500-lb anti-tank cluster bomb that carries 247 Mk. 118 Mod 1 bomblets. Each bomblet contains a shaped charge capable of penetrating several inches of armor. Rockeyes were used extensively during Operation Desert Storm to attrit Iraqi tank battalions. The Mk. 20 and CBU-99 are unguided free-fall bombs. Mk. 20 Rockeye. The baseline variant is used for shore-based operations.

CBU-99. This variant has increased thermal protection and is used for shipboard operations. The Rockeye can be mounted in pairs on a BRU-33 rack.

Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb

SSGT Glenn B. Lindsey (USAF)

The Paveway II is a series of laser-guided bombs based on conventional general-purpose bombs. The guidance kit consists of a laser detector and processor in the front and a set of steering fins in the back. The bomb detects and tracks reflected laser energy off a target. The laser designation can come from the launching aircraft, another aircraft (“buddy lasing”), or from a laser-capable ground unit such as a JTAC.

The Paveway II series was introduced in the early 1970s to replace the first-generation Paveway series of laser-guided bombs. The Paveway II improved sensor reliability and added extendible rear fins to extend glide range. The Paveway II series uses “bang-bang” control (where the fins can only deflect fully in either direction), limiting its maximum range and forcing it to follow a sinusoidal path to the target.

GBU-12. Paveway II bomb based on the Mk. 82, a 500-pound conventional bomb. The GBU-12 can be mounted in pairs using a BRU-33 rack.

GBU-16. Paveway II bomb based on the Mk. 83, a 1,000-pound conventional bomb.

GBU-10. Paveway II bomb based on the Mk. 84, a 2,000-pound conventional bomb.

Paveway III Laser Guided Bomb

The Paveway III series of laser-guided bombs was introduced in 1983. The series added the ability for the fins to move continuously, increasing glide efficiency. Paveway III technology also introduced improved avionics, including launch acceptability region calculations and configurable attack headings.

GBU-24. Paveway III bomb based on the Mk. 84, a 2,000-pound conventional bomb.

Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)

MC2 Milosz Reterski (USN)

JDAM is a kit that modifies a Mk. 80-series conventional bomb, giving it precision INS/GPS guidance capability. The JDAM kit consists of a GPS receiver, integral INS, and steerable fins. JDAM bombs must downlink target coordinates prior to release and cannot be manually steered or re-targeted after release. Modern JDAM kits have a precision of around 25 feet circular error probable (CEP).

The Joint Direct Attack Munition program began after Operation Desert Storm, when the US Air Force sought a weapon that could guide more reliably than an LGB in adverse weather such as dust storms. After extensive testing, the concept of an INS/GPS-guided bomb was shown to be effective by 1993, and the first JDAM kits were delivered to operational squadrons in 1997.

GBU-38. JDAM guidance kit installed on a Mk. 82 500-pound conventional bomb. Up to two can be mounted on a BRU-55.

GBU-32(V)2/B. JDAM guidance kit installed on a Mk. 83 1,000-pound conventional bomb.

GBU-31(V)1/B. JDAM guidance kit installed on a Mk. 84 2,000-pound conventional bomb. USAF variant.

GBU-31(V)2/B. JDAM guidance kit installed on a Mk. 84 2,000-pound conventional bomb. USN variant.

GBU-31(V)3/B. JDAM guidance kit installed on a BLU-109, a 500-pound hardened penetrating bomb. USAF variant.

GBU-31(V)4/B. JDAM guidance kit installed on a BLU-109, a 500-pound hardened penetrating bomb. USN variant.

Mark 80-Series General-Purpose Bomb

SSGT Randy Mallard (USAF)

The Mk. 80-series of general-purpose bombs is a series of unguided bombs dating back to the Vietnam War. The bombs come in nominal weights of 500, 1,000, and 2,000 pounds. The bombs are very versatile, and they can be fitted with both nose and tail fuzes, as well as different guidance kits.

The Mk. 82 and Mk. 83 variants can be mounted in singles or pairs on a BRU-33 rack.

Mk. 82. A general-purpose bomb with a nominal weight of 500 pounds.

Mk.82 Snakeye. A Mk. 82 with retarding petals that extend after release. The petals reduce the bomb’s downrange speed after release, allowing aircraft to perform low-level straight-through deliveries at lower altitudes without risk of frag damage.

Mk. 82Y. A Mk. 82 with a BSU-49 Air Inflatable Retarder (AIR). The AIR is a ballute that expands after release, performing the same retarding function as the Snakeye. The AIR is a newer technology and is more effective than the Snakeye, making the bomb safe to use at higher speeds than the Snakeye.

Mk. 83. A general-purpose bomb with a nominal weight of 1,000 pounds.

Mk. 84. A general-purpose bomb with a nominal weight of 2,000 pounds.


The F/A-18 can equip a variety of different rocket pods that can fire 2.75-inch FFARs or 5-inch Zuni rockets. These pods are mounted on BRU-33 racks in singles or pairs.

LAU-10. The LAU-10 launcher can carry up to four 5-inch Zuni rockets.

LAU-61. The LAU-61 can load up to 19 2.75-inch FFARs.

LA-68. The LAU-68 can load up to 7 2.75-inch FFARs.

Zuni Mk. 71. The Mk. 71 Zuni rocket has a higher-thrust, longer-burning motor. The Mk. 71 is equipped with a high-explosive warhead. The Zuni rocket dates back to 1957, and was used extensively in the Vietnam War. It has a modular design and can accommodate different motors, warheads, and fuzes.

M151 HE. A Hydra 70 FFAR with an M151 high-explosive warhead, effective against personnel and light vehicles.

Mk. 5. A Hydra 70 FFAR with a Mk. 5 high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, effective against armor with direct hits, and secondary blast effects for nearby personnel and light vehicles.

Fuel Tanks

External fuel tanks carry additional fuel to increase the F/A-18’s range and combat radius. Like most munitions, the fuel tanks are capable of being jettisoned when needed. The external tanks can be refueled during air-to-air refueling. The weight of the tank depends on the amount of fuel carried.

FPU-8/A. External fuel tank with a capacity of 330 gallons (approximately 2,200 pounds).


The Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pod is an electro-optical TV and infrared targeting pod with laser target designation capability. It includes a steerable camera with a wide zoom range, capable of daylight and nighttime target detection and laser designation.

To learn how to use the ATFLIR, see AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR. //link

AN/AAQ-28 LITENING II Targeting Pod

The AN/AAQ-28 LITENING II is an electro-optical and infrared targeting pod with target designation capability. It includes a steerable camera with a wide zoom range, capable of daylight and nighttime target detection and laser designation.

To learn how to use the LITENING II, see LITENING II TARGETING POD. //link

The AN/AWW-13 is used to receive post-launch video from, and send guidance commands to, the AGM-62 Walleye, AGM-84E SLAM, and AGM-84K SLAM-ER.


The AN/ASQ-T50 is a Tactical Combat Training System (TCTS) pod. It incorporates a sensor platform and datalink transceiver, allowing it to record and transmit real-time aircraft telemetry to monitoring stations. TCTS pods are used during training exercises to monitor and record aircraft positions, for many purposes, including debriefing analysis.

The TCTS pod is captive and cannot be released. It can be mounted to either outboard wingtip station.

Training Bombs

Training bombs are inert, releasable munitions with the same ballistic properties as combat stores. Upon impact, these bombs can release a smoke cloud that can be used to identify the impact point.

Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

BDU-33. Inert training bomb simulating the weight and ballistic characteristics of the Mk. 82. The BDU-33 is loaded in groups of six on a BRU-41A rack.

BDU-45. Inert training bomb simulating the weight and ballistic characteristics of the Mk. 82 Snakeye. The BDU-45 provides Mk. 82-specific training for both pilots and ordnancemen.

BDU-45/B. Inert training bomb simulating the weight and ballistic characteristics of the Mk. 82. Unlike the BDU-33, the BDU-45/B also matches the shape and size of the Mk. 82, meaning it can only be loaded in singles or pairs.