The Sea Sparrow Missile.

The Sea Sparrow

Is This The Missile That Downed Flight 800?

The above photograph is of a tube launched anti-aircraft and anti-missile missile called the RIM-7H Sea Sparrow.

The Sea Sparrow is basically an AIM-7F Sparrow air-to-air missile modified for use at sea. The modifications include folding fins to allow for tube launching, as is seen in the above photograph.

During the last year, there has been a program to enhance the Sea Sparrow into new roles. In summary, the missile, with a 25 mile range, has been modified to allow for in-flight terminal guidance by radio command, and the semi-active radar homing system has been augmented with an infra-red system that guides the missile if the illuminating radar ceases operation.

While a great deal of attention has been focused on the Standard missiles launched from the Ticonderoga, Arleigh Burke, and similar class ships, it is clear that, launched from closer in, the Sea Sparrow, with its new enhancements, would be more than able to strike down a 747 at 13,700 MSL.

Whereas the Standard missile is limited to the above mentioned ships, the Sea Sparrow is already deployed in a wide variety of platforms in the air and on the ocean surface, and with its already existing capability to launch from tube launchers and accept in-flight terminal guidance, well suited for adaptation to the vertical launch tubes of a modern fast attack submarine, such as the USS Albuquerque, a type 688 Los Angeles Class fast attack submarine (known to be near to the flight path of flight 800 at the time of the crash).

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