The AGM-69A SRAM

The AGM-69A Short Range Attack Missile was developed almost in parallel with the FB-111A program. Boeing undertook studies beginning in 1963 in December 1963 towards a Short Range Attack Missile and coincidentally, the USAF developed the following year SOR-212 resulting in the drafting of Weapons System 104A stipulating such a weapon offering a rocket-assisted range of 100nm. With its head start, Boeing won the contract on 31 October 1966 and live firings (with inert warheads) were underway in the summer of 1969. Initially SRAM equipped B-52s only but studies proved that the FB-111A would be an excellent launch platform because of its more accurate INS and more stable, high speed flight performance.

The AGM-69A was a solid rocket-boosted 2,230lb, 14ft long, Mach 3 missile with a maximum stand-off range of up to 100 miles. The million dollar SRAM was a 'smart missile' equipped with a Delco computer and a Singer-Kearfott KT-76 inertial measurement unit (IMU). For attack, the navigator would select stores stations using a new push-button array on his right console, including a special SRAM master control panel to select the delivery mode for that weapon.

The FB-111A entered the SRAM program when the Category II trials "FB", No.5, flew with polka-dotted test SRAMs. The first supersonic launch was accomplished on 22 September 1970. Called "Bullet Blitz", Category III test operations for the FB-111/SRAM weapon system took place from Pease AFB, NH. The mission was monitored and directed by SAC's 4201st Test Squadron, a tenant unit at Pease AFB. Category III is one of three test stages that any weapon system undergoes before it is considered operational when it is placed under controlled conditions in its daily operational environment. The first task of the the test force was to do Cat.III testing for the FB-111A itself and later expanding it to cover the FB-111A/SRAM combination. Cat.III tests for the "FB" started in 1 October 1971 and were completed by 31 July 1972, requiring 1,812 sorties totaling 8,082 hours of flying time.

Live versions of the AGM-69A joined the FB-111A force in 1973.The 509th BMW joined in Project "Bullet Blitz", a serie of captive flight tests culminating in seventeen launches at the White Sands missile range in New Mexico. The 715th BMS was the first squadron to perform a fully successful live launch on 2 April 1974. Annual SRAM launches were conducted subsequently with a limited stock of missiles, meaning two per year for the whole FB-111A community.

Alert FB-111As could carry up to six SRAM but a maximum of four was more typical; two in the weapons bay and two more on the inboard wing pivot pylons (stations 4 and 5). Live versions of the AGM-69A were fitted with a near-common W69 warhead which packed a 200-kiloton yield. SRAM internal carrying was restricted because the Air Force did not buy sufficient quantities of MAU-140 Ejector Rack Adapters to outfit all 76 aircraft.

Total number of operational AGM-69A was 1140 from 1975 to 1986 with SRAM inventory peaking at 1471 in 1975. The weapon was withdrawn from FB-111A alert use on 7 June 1990 under the express orders of Defense Secretary Richard B.Cheney.

SRAMs were stored in the Weapons Storage Area located across the active runway. The WSA was manned by the Munitions Maintenance Squadron's Integrated Munitions Maintenance and Storage branch. Six shops made up the IMMS. They were verification and checkout, missile checkout, weapons maintenance, conventional munitions maintenance, equipment maintenance and storage and handling. The IMMS was responsible for maintaining the equipment that electronically verifies the SRAM's electrical systems. The missile checkout section's responsibilities lied in maintaining the entire SRAM fleet and all FB-111A carrier aircraft equipment. The weapons maintenance section consisted of two separate sections, one responsible for the SRAM and the other responsible for the gravity-type weapons. The primary responsibility for the condition of these munitions rested with these sections. The equipment maintenance section maintained the trailers and associated support equipment used to move the weapons. Finally, the storage and handling section was tasked with the movement of weapons.

View 68-0240 from KPBG with 6 SRAMs (including 2 in the weapons bay). Taken in 1973 during the first flight for the 380th BW with 6 SRAMs. (Joe Whaley)