The US MIM-46 Mauler

The US MIM-46 Mauler

The M42 AA gun vehicle had entered production in 1952. Using a pair of 40mm Bofors guns, it was optically guided, that is the gunner aimed the guns at the aircraft through a sight, there was no computerised radar tracking and as the jet fighter became faster, this proved to be the most effective method at taking down these new menaces from the sky.

The US Armies response to this was the “Forward Area Air Defense” (FAAD) project, which kicked off in 1959. Several companies responded to the contract tender, which General Dynamics (Convair Pomona Division) won in 1959. In 1960 the project was given the official name “Mauler”.

The US MIM-46 Mauler was designed to engage low flying aircraft and the onboard radar of a SARH missile could be confused with ground objects such as buildings, as targets. It was therefore decided that the vehicle would use a beam riding guidance system. This meant that the vehicle would not only operate as the transporter of the missile, but would carry the radar detection equipment and the gunner, who would fire the missile and the FCS would guide the missile to the target.

The missile was a blast-fragmentation warhead, that is, it blew up next to the plane and the fragments AKA shrapnel would penetrate the skin of the plane, cooking of ammo, hydraulic lines or fuel.

Built on the M113, the first prototype was built for field testing in 1963. The system demonstrated an array of problems, most worrying was the continued tendency to lose guidance instructions immediately after launch. Additionally, when mounted in the 3 by 3 box launcher, the missiles would break their containers and damage the missiles in adjacent containers. Eventually no less than 22 different container materials would be used in an attempt to find a suitable solution.

In November 1963 Mauler was re-directed as a pure technology demonstration program. Several modified versions using simpler systems were proposed, but even these would not have entered service before 1969 and the project was cancelled in favour of other systems.