Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Copyright © 2002 Andreas Parsch

Rockwell (North American) AGM-64 Hornet

In the early 1960s, North American designed a missile for the U.S. Air Force's ATGAR (Anti-Tank Guided Aircraft Rocket) requirement. The ATGAR program itself came to nothing, but as a direct result of its design efforts, North American was awarded a development contract for the ZAGM-64A Hornet missile in 1963. The Hornet was to be an electro-optically guided battlefield missile against armoured vehicles, and the first test firings of XAGM-64A prototypes occurred in December 1964.

Photo: via Jane's

The XAGM-64A was powered by a short-duration solid rocket motor, and controlled by cruciform tail fins. The planned guidance system for the Hornet was electro-optical television guidance. The image of a TV camera in the missile was locked on the selected target before launch, and the guidance logic would keep the actual TV image in line with the locked one. However, the USAF soon stopped development of the AGM-64 as a tactical missile, mainly because the AGM-65 Maverick showed more potential. Instead, the Hornet was used as a testbed for all kinds of guidance systems, including magnetic and various electro-optical ones. The XAGM-64A test program was terminated in 1968.

The Hornet was revived for a short time in the early 1970s, when it was used again to develop missile guidance systems. For that purpose, the propulsion system of the XAGM-64A was upgraded to allow ranges of up to 4000 m (13000 ft). The tested systems included laser guidance, the electro-optical guidance for the GBU-8/B and GBU-9/B HOBOS (Homing Bomb System) glide bombs, and the terminal guidance system for the AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missile.


I have no data about the exact physical characteristics of the XAGM-64A missile.

Main Sources

[1] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979
[2] R.T. Pretty, D.H.R. Archer (eds.): "Jane's Weapon Systems 1972-73", Jane's, 1973

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Last Updated: 8 June 2002