The US MIM-72 Chaparral SAM System

The US MIM-72 Chaparral SAM System Requirement

The fast paced development over the last few decades with which helicopters and their Anti-Tank Missiles has progressed, has proven difficult to match in terms of the development of an effective land based vehicle capable of matching the quick engagement times of these tank hunter helicopters. This has been highlighted for some time by the US’s Combined Arms Team (CAT).

These ATM’s have progressively increased in their range and their guidance systems, which has reduced the exposure time of the helicopters and narrows the window with which a SAM system could detect and engage them successfully.

The US MIM-72 Chaparral SAM System Development

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried by the US Navy’s fighter aircraft.

The 1950’s Mauler SAM system had been cancelled, so a new project was started to see if the existing US Navy’s fighter aircraft AIM-9 Sidewinder could be modified to fire from a vehicle in the SAM role as to engage long distance targets whilst another vehicle, the Vulcan SPAAG would engage low level targets as it had a quick response time and the MIM-72 would be a SAM used to engage long distance targets.

A small target-acquisition area radar, the AN/MPQ-49 Forward Area Alerting Radar (FAAR), was developed in 1966 to support the Chaparral/Vulcan system.

The launcher is based on the M113 family of vehicles. It entered service with the US Army in 1969 and was phased out between 1990 and 1998.

The US MIM-72 Chaparral SAM System

Missile Models

MIM-72 Chaparral
MIM-72A Original production missile.
MIM-72B Training missile.
MIM-72C Improved Chaparral. Featuring an improved AN/DAW-1 guidance section, M817 directional doppler fuze and a M250 blast-fragmentation warhead. These enhancements gave the missile an all-aspect capability. Produced between 1976 and 1981. It entered service in November 1978. Range improved to 9000 m.
RIM-72C Sea Chaparral. Naval version – Evaluated but not deployed by the US Navy. Adopted by Taiwan.
MIM-72D Experimental missile that was cancelled before production.
MIM-72E MIM-72C missiles retrofitted with a new M121 smokeless motor.
MIM-72F New built missiles with upgraded M121 smokeless motor.
MIM-72G Fitted with a new AN/DAW-2 based on the seeker in the FIM-92 Stinger giving improved resistance to countermeasures. This was retrofitted to all Chaparral missiles during the late 1980s. New missiles where produced between 1990 and 1991.
MIM-72H Export version of the MIM-72F.
MIM-72J Downgraded export version of the MIM-72G.
M30 Inert training missile.

The US MIM-72 Chaparral SAM System Spec’s (MIM-72A)

Length: 2.90 metres (9 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 63.0 centimetres (24.8 in)
Diameter: 127 millimetres (5.0 in)
Launch weight: 86 kilograms (190 lb)
Speed: Mach 1.5
Range: 500 to 9,000 metres (1,600 to 30,000 ft)
Altitude: 25 to 4,000 metres (82 to 13,000 ft)
Guidance: Passive infra-red tail chase only.
Motor: MK 50 solid-fuel rocket motor (12.2 kN) for 4.7 s
Warhead: 12.2 kilograms (27 lb) MK 48 Continuous-rod warhead

The US MIM-72 Chaparral SAM System Former Operators

Republic of China (Taiwan)
United States