Current Designations of U.S. Unmanned Military Aerospace Vehicles
Copyright © 2000-2022 Andreas Parsch
1 The Designation System
2 Designation Listings
The current designation system for U.S. military missiles, rockets and target drones was introduced by the Department of Defense in 1963. It became formally effective on 27 June 1963, and closely followed the pattern of the aircraft designation system, which had been introduced the year before. As such, it was not based on any previous missile designation system used by the U.S. military services, and therefore all missiles then in service were assigned new designations under the new system. The designation system has since been slightly revised and extended (notably by the inclusion of space-related vehicles in the 1988/89 time frame), and the latest version is defined by Air Force Instruction (AFI) 16-401(I) (formerly Air Force Joint Instruction 16-401) Designating and Naming Military Aerospace Vehicles (PDF file, 480 kB), dated 14 March 2005. AFI 16-401(I) not only covers the aircraft and missile designation systems, but also some of the bureaucratic red tape to be followed for actually assigning a name or a designation to a military aerospace vehicle.
A U.S. military aerospace vehicle designation is also known as an "MDS Designation" (MDS = "Mission-Design-Series", see aircraft designations). An MDS for missiles, rockets, etc. looks as follows (all examples are real-world designations):
In the following section, each of the eight elements is explained in detail. For all letter symbols a year range is given in brackets to document when this particular symbol is/was valid. If one of the bounds is given as a range (e.g. 1988/89), this means that I don't know the respective year more exactly.
(1) Vehicle Type: This letter defines the broad category of the vehicle, and defines in which series the MDS is numbered (see section (4) below).
Notes for Vehicle Type Symbol:
(2) Mission: The letter to the left of the vehicle type symbol designates the mission of the vehicle. The following mission symbols are defined (see note 1):
Notes for Mission Symbol:
(3) Launch Environment: This letter describes the launch environment of the aerospace vehicle. The original regulation of 1963 allowed the omission of the launch environment letter, if a status prefix letter was used. This option has been removed in the 1970s, resulting in a few redesignations (like YQM-94A to YGQM-94A). Designations for satellites and ground-launched boosters do not use the launch environment symbol. While this is no surprise for satellites, a "P" or "G" launch environment letter would certainly be appropriate for ground launched space boosters like Atlas, Delta or Titan. The following launch environment symbols are defined:
Notes for Launch Environment Symbol:
(4) Design Number: Each vehicle type is used to form a separate series of design numbers, each starting from 1. The numbers in each series are to be assigned in strict numerical sequence without reference to manufacturers' model numbers and/or existing numbers in other MDS series. It is possible that multiple versions of a missile for different purposes and/or with different launch options exist. These versions would use the same design number with different letter combinations. An example for this is the LTV Regulus II missile: RGM-15A was the ship-launched ground-attack missile, MQM-15A was a ground-launched target drone version.
(5) Series Letter: Variants of a basic vehicle type are designated by a suffix letter. The first model always receives suffix "A" and subsequent series letters are to be assigned in strict sequence (omitting "I" and "O" to avoid confusion with numerals "1" and "0"). The series letter is actually a mandatory component of a conforming MDS, and therefore "plain" designations like "AIM-120" always designate the general type of vehicle and never a specific model.
(6) Status Prefix: Any vehicle, which is not in normal operational service or is of a special non-operational configuration, can receive a prefix letter in its designation to reflect its current status. The following status prefixes are defined:
Notes for Status Prefix Symbol:
(7) Configuration Number: This is an optional element of the designation, and not part of the MDS proper. Minor modifications or slightly differing sub-variants of a specific missile or rocket model can be indicated by an additional suffix number, separated from the series letter by a dash.
(8) Popular Name: Most missiles receive a "popular name" or acronym very early in the planning or development phase. While the name is not part of the official designation, many missiles are almost exclusively referenced by their name, both in the popular press and in official government news releases and documents.
For each vehicle type, a list of assigned designations is provided (ellipses in suffix letters denote all letters in between, excluding I and O). For most vehicles, only the manufacturer and the popular name is given. This should provide a useful reference in most cases. Only for vehicles without a name, or for some "less known" vehicles (i.e. not normally found in standard sources) are a few details given. The link in the left column leads to the corresponding page in the Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, which includes more information about the missile, like one or more photos and reference to the major differences between the variants. A link in the "Previous Designations" column will point to an explanation of the system, under which the designation was assigned.
|Designation||Manufacturer||Name (Remarks)||Previous Designations|
|MGM-1C||Martin||Matador||SSM-A-1, B-61, TM-61|
|RIM-2A/.../F||General Dynamics (Convair)||Terrier||SAM-N-7 (RIM-2A/.../E)|
|MIM-3A||Western Electric||Nike Ajax||SAM-G-7, SAM-A-7, M1|
|MGM-5A/B||JPL/Firestone||Corporal||SSM-G-17, SSM-A-17, M2|
Sea Sparrow (RIM-7)
AAM-N-6 (AIM-7C/D/E, Navy)
AIM-101 (AIM-7D, AF)
|Raytheon (NWC/Philco/General Electric)||Sidewinder||
AAM-N-7 (AIM-9A/.../D, Navy)
GAR-8 (AIM-9B, AF)
|Boeing||Bomarc||F-99, IM-99 (CIM-10A/B)|
ASM-N-7 (AGM-12A/B/C, Navy)
GAM-83 (AGM-12A/B/D, AF)
|Martin||Mace||TM-76 (MGM-13A/B, CGM-13C)|
|MIM-14A/B/C||Western Electric||Nike Hercules||SSM-A-25, M6 (MIM-14A/B)|
|General Dynamics (Convair)||Atlas||
|MGM-18A||Martin||Lacrosse||SSM-G-12, SSM-A-12, M4|
|Aérospatiale (Nord)||(Model SS.11/AS.11)|
|RIM-24A/B/C||General Dynamics (Convair)||Tartar||Mk 15 (see note 1) (RIM-24A/B)|
Titan II (LGM-25C)
|AGM-28A/B/C||North American||Hound Dog||GAM-77 (AGM-28A/B)|
Pershing II (MGM-31C)
|MGM-32A||Aérospatiale (Nord)||Entac (Engin Téléguidé Anti-Char = Remotely Guided Anti-Tank Missile)|
|MQM-33A/B/C/D||Northrop (Radioplane)||OQ-19 (MQM-33A/B)|
Firebee II (BQM-34E/F/T)
KDA (AQM-34B/C, Navy)
Q-2 (BQM-34A, AF)
|AQM-35A/B||Northrop (Radioplane)/Bendix||(see note 2)||Q-4|
|LGM-35A (see note 3)||Northrop Grumman||Sentinel ICBM; also known as GBSD(Ground Based Strategic Deterrent)|
KD2B (AQM-37A, Navy)
Q-12 (AQM-37A, AF)
|AQM-38A/B||Northrop (Radioplane)||(Model RP-76/78)|
|AQM-41A||Bureau of Standards/Fairchild||Petrel (drone version)||AUM-N-2|
|General Dynamics||Redeye||M41, XMIM-43 (FIM-43A/B)|
|Texas Instruments||Shrike||ASM-N-10 (AGM-45A)|
|General Dynamics||Mauler (MIM-46)
Sea Mauler (RIM-46)
|LIM-49A||Western Electric/McDonnell Douglas||
Nike Zeus B (XLIM-49A)
Spartan (LIM-49A) (see note 4)
|RIM-50A||Bendix||Typhon LR (cancelled)||SAM-N-8|
|Raytheon (Hughes)||Phoenix||AAM-N-11 (AIM-54A)|
|RIM-55A||Bendix||Typhon MR (cancelled)||SAM-N-9|
|PQM-56A||Nord/Bell||(CT.41 ramjet-powered supersonic target)|
|MQM-57A/B||Northrop (Radioplane)||Falconer (similar to MQM-33/36)||AN/USD-1 (see note 5)|
|MQM-58A||Aerojet General||Overseer||AN/USD-2 (see note 5)|
|ZRGM-59A||APL||Taurus LFSW (Landing Force Support Weapon; cancelled)|
|AQM-60A||Lockheed||Kingfisher (modified X-7)||Q-5|
|MQM-61A||Beech||Cardinal (similar to MQM-39)|
|AGM-62A (see note 6)||Martin Marietta||Walleye|
|ZAGM-63A||-||(Navy project for anti-radiation missile; cancelled)|
|XAGM-64A||Rockwell (North American)||Hornet (USAF project; cancelled)|
|Raytheon (General Dynamics)||
Standard SM-1/2 MR (Medium Range) (RIM-66)
Standard ARM (Anti-Radiation Missile) (RGM-66)
|Raytheon (General Dynamics)||Standard SM-1/2 ER (Extended range)|
|ZAIM-68A||Air Force Weapons Lab||Big Q (cancelled USAF project; see note 7)|
|AGM-69A/B||Boeing||SRAM (Short Range Attack Missile)|
|LEM-70A||Boeing||Minuteman ERCS (Emergency Rocket Communications System) (see note 8)|
|Raytheon (Hughes)||TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire guided)|
|Ford||Chaparral (modified AIM-9)|
|ZBGM-75A||-||AICBM (Advanced ICBM; cancelled USAF project WS-120A)|
|AGM-76A||Hughes||Falcon (air-to-ground derivative of AIM-47)|
|General Dynamics||Standard ARM|
|XAGM-79A||Martin Marietta||Blue Eye (TV guided derivative of AGM-12; cancelled USAF project)|
|XAGM-80A||Chrysler||Viper (derivative of AGM-12 with inertial guidance; cancelled USAF project)|
|ZAIM-82A||-||(1969/1970 USAF design study for advanced short-range AAM for F-15 aircraft; cancelled in favour of AIM-95)|
|Texas Instruments||Bulldog (laser-guided derivative of AGM-12; cancelled Navy project)|
|Boeing (McDonnell Douglas)||
SLAM (Standoff Land Attack Missile) (AGM-84E)
SLAM-ER (SLAM-Expanded Response) (AGM-84H/K)
|ZRIM-85A||-||(Navy project for medium-range SAM; cancelled)|
|Boeing||ALCM (Air-Launched Cruise Missile)|
|AGM-87A||General Electric||Focus (AIM-9B derivative)|
|Raytheon (Texas Instruments)||HARM (High-Speed Anti-Radiation missile)
AARGM (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile) (AGM-88E)
AARGM-ER (AARGM Extended Range) (AGM-88G)
|ZUGM-89A||-||Perseus (cancelled Navy project)|
|ZBQM-90A||-||(Navy project for high-speed high-altitude target; cancelled)|
|AQM-91A||Teledyne Ryan||Firefly (UAV for Compass Arrow program)|
|FIM-92A/.../H||Raytheon (General Dynamics)||Stinger|
|XGQM-93A (see note 9)||E-Systems||(Model L450F UAV for Compass Dwell program)|
|YGQM-94A/B (see note 9)||Boeing||B-Gull (UAV for Compass Cope program)|
|AIM-95A||Hughes||Agile (Navy project; cancelled)|
|UGM-96A||Lockheed||Trident I C4|
|XAIM-97A||General Dynamics||Seekbat (USAF project; cancelled)|
|YGQM-98A (see note 9)||Teledyne Ryan||R-Tern (UAV for Compass Cope program)|
|XLIM-99A||?||(I have no details; see note 10)|
|XLIM-100A||?||(I have no details; see note 10)|
|RIM-101A||-||(Navy project; see note 11)|
|PQM-102A/B||General Dynamics (Convair)/Sperry||Delta Dagger (F-102 modified as target drone; see note 12)|
|XAQM-103A (see note 9)||Teledyne Ryan||Firebee (modified Model 147G; similar to AQM-34)|
|XBQM-106A/B/C||USAF FDL||Teleplane (experimental UAV)|
|XBQM-108A||NWC||(Navy VATOL (Vertical Attitude Take-Off & Landing) project)|
BGM-109A/.../G (see note 13)
|Raytheon (General Dynamics)||
Gryphon GLCM (Ground-Launched Cruise Missile) (BGM-109G)
|LTV||(unsuccessful competitor to BGM-109)|
|ZBQM-111A||Teledyne Ryan||Firebrand (Navy target; cancelled)|
|AGM-112A/B||Rockwell||(unpowered guided bomb; redesignated as GBU-15(V)/B)|
|XRIM-113A||-||(cancelled Navy project for Anti-Cruise-Missile missile)|
|Boeing/Lockheed Martin (Rockwell/Martin Marietta)||Hellfire|
|Raytheon (General Dynamics)||RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile)|
|FQM-117A/B/C||RS Systems||RCMAT (Radio-Controlled Miniature Aerial Target; see note 14)|
|LGM-118A (see note 15)
|Martin Marietta||Peacekeeper (often referred to as "MX" ICBM)|
|Raytheon (Hughes)||AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile)|
Pave Tiger (YCQM-121A)
Seek Spinner (YCGM-121B)
|Motorola||Sidearm (obsolete AIM-9C modified as anti-radiation missiles)|
|Emerson Electric||Skipper II (GBU-16/B Paveway II glide bomb fitted with a rocket motor)|
|AGM-124A||Hughes||Wasp (USAF anti-tank mini-missile; cancelled)|
|Boeing||Sea Lance ASWSOW (Anti-Submarine Warfare Stand-Off Weapon; cancelled)|
|BQM-126A||Beech||(Model 997 target; cancelled)|
|YAQM-127A||Martin Marietta||SLAT (Supersonic Low-Altitude Target; cancelled Navy project)|
|YAQM-128A||-||(subscale aerial target missile for Navy; cancelled)|
|AGM-129A/B||Raytheon (General Dynamics)||ACM (Advanced Cruise Missile)|
|Boeing (Rockwell)||(GBU-15(V)/B glide bomb fitted with a rocket motor)|
SRAM II (Short-Range Attack Missile II; cancelled) (AGM-131A)
SRAM-T (SRAM-Tactical; cancelled) (AGM-131B)
|AIM-132A||MBDA (BAe Dynamics/Matra)||ASRAAM (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile)|
|UGM-133A||Lockheed Martin||Trident II D5|
|XMGM-134A||Martin Marietta||Midgetman SICBM (Small ICBM; cancelled)|
|ASM-135A (see note 16)
|Vought||ASAT (Anti-Satellite missile)|
|Northrop||Tacit Rainbow (cancelled anti-radar cruise missile)|
|Northrop||TSSAM (Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile; cancelled)|
|YCEM-138A||Boeing||Pave Cricket (ECM drone similar to YCGM-121B)|
|Lockheed Martin (Loral)||VL-Asroc (Vertical Launch - Anti-Submarine Rocket)|
|Lockheed Martin (LTV)||ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System)|
|ADM-141A/B/C||IMI (Brunswick)||TALD (Tactical Air-Launched Decoy; see note 17)|
|Rafael/Lockheed Martin||Have Nap (original Isreali name is Popeye)|
|MQM-143A||Continental RPVs||(1/5th scale target model of MIG-27)|
|ADM-144A||-||(designation reserved but most probably not used; I have no further details)|
|BQM-145A||Teledyne Ryan||Peregrine (JUAV-MR; Joint UAV - Medium Range; cancelled)|
|Oerlikon/Lockheed Martin||ADATS (Air-Defense Anti-Tank System)|
|BQM-147A||BAI Aerosystems||Exdrone UAV|
|FGM-148A/B/C/D||Raytheon/Lockheed Martin||Javelin AAWS-M (Advanced Anti-Tank Weapon System - Medium)|
Isreal Aircraft Industries
(see note 18)
|UAV-SR (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-Short Range; designations reserved by Army/Navy, but not used)|
|YAIM-152A||-||AAAM (Advanced Air-to-Air Missile; cancelled Navy project)|
|XAGM-153A/B||-||(1992 USAF requirement for tactical standoff air-to-ground missile; cancelled)|
|AGM-154A/.../E (see note 19)
|Raytheon (Texas Instruments)||JSOW (Joint Standoff Weapon)|
|BQM-155A||TRW/IAI||Hunter UAV (has since been redesignated as RQ-5A)|
|RIM-156A/B||Raytheon||Standard SM-2ER Block IV (derivative of RIM-67)|
|Raytheon||EFOGM (Enhanced Fiber-Optical Guided Missile; cancelled)|
|Lockheed Martin||JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile) (AGM-158A)
JASSM-ER (JASSM-Extended Ramge) (AGM-158B)
LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile) (AGM-158C)
JASSM-XR (JASSM-Extreme Range) (AGM-158D)
|AGM-159A||Boeing (McDonnell Douglas)||JASSM (unsuccessful competitor to AGM-158A)|
|Northrop Grumman (Teledyne Ryan) (ADM-160A)
|MALD (Miniature Air-Launched Decoy)|
|RIM-162A/.../G||Raytheon||ESSM (Evolved Sea-Sparrow Missile)|
|GQM-163A||Orbital Sciences||Coyote SSST (Supersonic Sea-Skimming Target)|
|MGM-164A||Lockheed Martin||ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) Block II|
|RGM-165A||Raytheon||LASM (Land Attack Standard Missile; cancelled)|
|MGM-166A||Lockheed Martin||LOSAT KEM (Line-Of-Sight Anti-Tank Kinetic Energy Missile)|
|MGM-168A||Lockheed Martin||ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) Block IVA|
|Lockheed Martin||JCM (Joint Common Missile)|
|FGM-172A/B||Lockheed Martin||SRAW (Short-Range Assault Weapon)|
|GQM-173A/B||Alliant Techsystems||MSST (Multi-Stage Supersonic Target)|
|RIM-174A||Raytheon||ERAM (Extended-Range Active Missile)|
|MQM-175A/B||EADS||(sub-scale target drone)|
|AGM-179A||Lockheed Martin||JAGM (Joint Air-to-Ground Missile)|
|YAGM-180A||Lockheed Martin||LRSO (Long Range Standoff Cruise Missile; unsuccessful competitor to AGM-181)|
|YAGM-181A||Raytheon||LRSO (Long Range Standoff Cruise Missile)|
|YLGM-182A||Northrop Grumman||GBSD (Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent); redesignated as LGM-35A (see note 3)|
|AGM-183A||Lockheed Martin||ARRW (Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon)|
|RGM-184A||Kongsberg||NSM (Naval Strike Missile)|
|MQM-185A/B||QinetiQ||Banshee Jet 80+|
|MQM-186A||?||RedWing; sub-scale aerial target for U.S. Army ADA-T (Air Defense Artillery Targets) program (see note 20)|
|AGM-187A||Lockheed Martin||JAGM-F (Joint Air-To-Ground Missile - Fixed Wing; see note 21)|
|Lockheed Martin||JATM (Joint Advanced Tactical Missile)|
In 1997, the designation system for manned aircraft was extended to include a Q category for UAVs. The following designations have since been allocated:
|RQ-1A/B (see note 22)
Gray Eagle (MQ-1C)
|Northrop Grumman (Teledyne Ryan)||Global Hawk|
|Northrop Grumman (TRW/IAI)||Hunter (BQM-155A redesignated)|
|Northrop Grumman||Fire Scout|
|MQ-9A/B||General Atomics||Reaper (Predator B) (MQ-9A)
|RQ-12A (see note 23)||AeroVironment||Wasp AE|
|RQ-14A/B||AeroVironment||Dragon Eye (RQ-14A)
|RQ-16A/B||Honeywell||(VTOL Micro Air Vehicle)|
|MQ-20A (see note 24)||General Atomics||Avenger (Predator C)|
|RQ-21A||Boeing Insitu||Blackjack (Integrator)|
|Boeing||UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike) (ZRAQ-25A)
Stingray CBARS (Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System) (MQ-25A)
|RQ-26A||AeroNautics Defense Systems||AeroStar|
|XQ-58A (see note 25)||Kratos||Valkyrie|
|XRQ-72A (see note 26)||Northrop Grumman||Great Horned Owl|
|RQ-170 (see note 27)||Lockheed Martin||Sentinel|
1. Source  (1974 ed.) lists SAM-N-7 as the old designation for Tartar. Since Tartar was a direct development of Terrier, the original SAM-N-7, it is possible, that the Navy at some time started to refer to both systems as SAM-N-7.
2. Several sources list the AQM-35 as the Bendix Talos, with an old designation of XQ-4B. Some of these sources say that there was also an RIM-35 designation, implying a shipborne surface-to-air missile. But the designation of the Talos SAM was of course RIM-8. While it seems to be certain, that Bendix produced a batch of XQ-4B drones originally designed by Radioplane, the XQ-4 is a vehicle completely different from the Bendix SAM-N-6/RIM-8 Talos missile. That said, it can be safely assumed that there was never a "RIM-35" missile, and that the sources saying so are in error.
3. The GBSD had the designation LGM-182 originally allocated to it. It is unknown, why this was changed to the out-of-sequence designation LGM-35.
4. The Nike Zeus A was developed into the Nike Zeus B/Spartan exo-atmospheric interceptor component of the Safeguard ABM system (the endo-atmospheric short-range component was Sprint). Several sources claim that Nike Zeus A was designated XLIM-49A, and Spartan became LIM-49A, although it was significantly different from Nike Zeus A. However, official records clearly indicate that XLIM-49A was actually the Nike Zeus B, which was far more similar to the Spartan.
5. The AN/USD-n designations are from the Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS). The designations apply to the complete drone surveillance system, including ground equipment (the AN/USD series includes - among other equipment - also some drones, which were not redesignated in the missile series). The USD designator means:
6. The AGM-62 Walleye is an unpowered glide bomb and shouldn't have been designated in the missile series. The US Navy actually dropped the AGM-62 designator soon after it had been allocated, and designated the Walleye as Guided Weapon Mk 1 instead (later versions received higher Mark numbers). No GBU-n/B designation was used, because the GBU designator did not yet exist in 1963.
7. The missile project number 68 is also reported as AGM-68, but this is incorrect. Also related to the M-68 slot is the U.S. Navy's request in 1995 to assign the designation RIM-68A to the Standard Missile Block IV (as a continuation from RIM-66 and RIM-67). However, the request was turned down, and the missile became the RIM-156A instead.
8. Although it is likely that the designation LEM-70A was reserved (but apparently not used) for the Minuteman ERCS, I have no definite confirmation for this.
9. The XGQM-93A, YGQM-94A, YGQM-98A and XAQM-103A were originally designated XQM-93A, YQM-94A, YQM-98A and XQM-103A, respectively. This was in accordance with the original designation system, which allowed omisson of the launch-environment letter when a status prefix was used.
10. The XLIM-99A and XLIM-100A designations were reserved for the US Army in October 1972. This strongly suggests that the numbers were assigned to the silo-launched anti-ballistic missiles then in development. One possibility would be Martin-Marietta LIM-99 Sprint and LIM-100 Sprint II (advanced Sprint, later cancelled), but I have no evidence for this.
11. Some sources say that the RIM-101 is the Sea Sparrow, later designated as RIM-7. Also, the original AIM-101 designation of the Air Force Sparrow is sometimes listed in the "101" slot of the 1963 system. However, both of these descriptions are incorrect. The official source  describes the RIM-101A as a "tube-launched SAM, with passive radar and IR guidance", which does not fit the original RIM-7E Sea Sparrow. The most plausible explanation for the confusion is that the RIM-101 was an advanced Sea Sparrow derivative, which was later cancelled in favour of further RIM-7 development.
12. The PQM-102 designation is unusual:
13. The Navy initially used the BGM-109 designation for all Tomahawks, using numerical suffixes (e.g. BGM-109A-1) to differentiate between the various launch options. This was later appropriately changed to different launch environment letters (RGM-109, UGM-109). The USAF BGM-109G Gryphon GLCM should have been designated MGM-109G, because it was used only from a mobile ground launcher.
14. The FQM-117A is a very simple model plane, while FQM-117B/C are 1/9th scale models of MiG-27 and F-16 aircraft, respectively.
15. It was planned to develop a mobile basing system for the Peacekeeper. The mobile missile would have been designated MGM-118A.
16. ASAT should have been designated AIM-135A, because purpose-indicator letter "I" is defined as "air and space intercept".
17. The ADM-141A/B are unpowered glide decoys, while the ADM-141C ITALD (Improved TALD) is a powered derivative.
18. The designations YPQM-149A and YPQM-150A were reserved for the two finalist contractors (McDonnell Douglas and IAI) for the joint Army/Navy UAV-SR requirement of 1990. However, it was apparently never formally established which design number would refer to which contractor's design. In the end neither designation was ever used before the whole UAV program was restructured.
19. The original AGM-154A/B/C JSOW are unpowered guided glide bombs and should have received GBU-n/B designations. The planned AGM-154D/E variants are turbojet-powered derivatives.
20. No confirmed details about the MQM-186A are available. The most likely manufacturer is Griffon Aerospace.
21. The allocation of the AGM-187A designation to JAGM-F should be regarded as not definitely confirmed.
22. The designations RQ-1A/B are used by the USAF for the whole Predator system, including ground equipment. The designations RQ-1K and RQ-1L apply to the UAVs of the RQ-1A and RQ-1B systems, respectively. The Predator GCS (Ground Control Station) is called RQ-1P, and the "Trojan SPIRIT II" SATCOM (Satellite Communication) station is designated RQ-1U. The designation MQ-1B refers to the Predator system with UAVs modified to carry the AGM-114 Hellfire anti-armour missile, and the armed UAVs are called MQ-1L. RQ-1Q is an upgraded GCS, and RQ-1W is a new SATCOM station (known as PPSL - Predator Primary Satellite Link). A further upgrade of the GCS is designated as MD-1A, though (in a new "D-for-Drone Control System" series).
23. The Q-12 design number was originally requested by the Army for the YMQ-12A, but rejected in favor of YMQ-1C. The Q-12 slot remained unassigned for several years, until it was filled with the allocation of RQ-12A.
24. It is unclear, why the Q-20 slot was reused for the Avenger, when the RQ-20 designation for Puma AE is still in use.
25. XQ-58A is an out-of-sequence designation, where the number was most likely taken from the X-series. There was no X-plane announced between the X-57A and X-59A.
26. It is unclear, why the out-of-sequence number 72 was assigned.
27. The number 170 is most likely derived from Lockheed Martin's project number for the Sentinel.
Only a few operational missiles after 1963 have not (yet) received standard designations. These include:
There are numerous drones, targets and UAVs, which were funded and/or procured by the U.S. military services, but did not receive standard designations. The following list includes only those vehicles, which were at least briefly used in an operational role. There were many more research and test vehicles, most of which are listed in the Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4.
Several ballistic missile targets, which are used in testing anti-ballistic missiles, don't have standard missile designations. xQM-n designations could be applied to the following targets:
Currently, there are several missiles under development, which have not yet received a numerical designation. Missile programs, which are still in the planning phase, are not included in the following list.
Research and test missiles (other than RPVs) did never receive a standard designation (there is no appropriate designator for pure test missiles). Among these are:
There are numerous missile programs, which reached the flight-test stage but never received a numerical designation. These include:
Rocket-propelled guided projectiles are effectively gun-launched guided missiles. However, this type of ammunition is designated by the services as "projectiles" and not "missiles".
There are guided weapons, which frequently appear in compilations of guided missile systems, but which are not proper missiles in the sense of the DOD's missile designation system. These include e.g.:
|Designation||Manufacturer||Name (Remarks)||Previous Designations|
|MGR-3A||Emerson Electric||Little John||M51|
|RUR-4A||Naval Ordnance Test Station||Weapon Alpha (rocket-propelled depth charge)|
|RUR-5A/.../F||Honeywell||ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket)|
|MER-6A||L.T.V./Ford||(USAF Program 279L: Blue Scout Junior rocket with ERCS (Emergency Rocket Communications System))||RM-91 (rocket only)|
|XADR-7A||Raytheon||(USAF decoy rocket; possibly similar to ADR-8)||RCU-1/B (see note 1)|
|ADR-8A||Revere (Tracor)||(USAF chaff rocket; used in AN/ALE-25 Decoy Rocket Pod)||RCU-2/B (see note 1)|
|XADR-9A||Tracor||(USAF decoy rocket)||RCU-3/B (see note 1)|
|XADR-10A||Raytheon||(USAF decoy rocket)||RCU-4/B (see note 1)|
|XADR-11A||?||(USAF decoy rocket)|
|XADR-12A||?||(USAF decoy rocket)|
|XMQR-13A||USAMICOM||BMTS (Ballistic Missile Target System)|
|XAGR-14A||Martin Marietta||ZAP (Zero Anti-aircraft Potential; Navy project)|
|MTR-15A||USAMICOM||BATS (Ballistic Aerial Target System)|
|MQR-16A||Atlantic Research||Gunrunner (Army/Navy target for FIM-43 and MIM-72 training)|
|XFGR-17A||General Dynamics||Viper (light anti-tank rocket; cancelled)|
|Naval Weapons Center||Smokey Sam (inert training rocket for simulating SAM launches)|
|AGR-19A/B||BAE Systems||APKWS II (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, for USMC)|
|BAE Systems||APKWS II (Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, for USAF)|
1. The RCU-n/B designations were defined in the Aeronautical and Support Equipment Type Designation System (ASETDS), which includes air-dropped ordnance. The "RCU" designator has been deleted from the ASETDS since at least 1974, and I have no references as to its exact meaning. Most likely, it was either "Rocket, Chaff" or "Rocket, Decoy".
Many small rockets, especially infantry rockets and rockets launched from airborne multi-tube launchers, have not received MDS designations. These include:
|Designation||Manufacturer||Name (Remarks)||Previous Designations|
|PWN-3A||University of Michigan/NACA||Nike-Cajun||RM-85|
|PWN-4A||University of Michigan||Exos||RM-86|
|PWN-5A||Cooper Development||Rocksonde 200||RM-88|
|PWN-6A/B||Atlantic Research||Kitty (Arcas)|
|PWN-7A||Atlantic Research||Rooster (Arcas-ROBIN)|
|PWN-8A/B||Space Data||Loki Datasonde|
|XPWN-9A||Aerojet/UTC||Kangaroo (US Navy program; cancelled)|
|PWN-10A/B||Space Data||Super Loki Datasonde|
|PWN-11A||Space Data||Super Loki Datasonde|
|PWN-12A||Space Data||Super Loki ROBIN|
|SB-1A||General Dynamics||Atlas E|
|SB-2A/B||Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics)||Atlas II (SB-2A)
Atlas IIA/AS (SB-2B)
|SB-3A||Boeing (McDonnell Douglas)||Delta II|
|SB-4A||Martin Marietta||Titan II|
|SB-5A/B||Lockheed Martin||Titan IV (SB-5A)
Titan IV B (SB-5B)
|SB-6A||Martin Marietta||Titan 34D|
|SSB-7A||Boeing||IUS (Inertial Upper Stage; used with SB-5A/B Titan IV)|
|SSB-8A/B||Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics)||Centaur (used with SB-2A/B Atlas II (SSB-8A) and SB-5A/B Titan IV (SSB-8B))|
|SSB-9A||McDonnell Douglas||PAM D-II (Payload Assist Module D-II; used with SB-3A Delta II)|
|SSB-10A||Martin Marietta||Transtage (used with SB-6A Titan 34D)|
The following launch vehicles have not (yet) received SB-n designations:
|WS-1A/B||General Electric||DMSP Block 5D-2 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) (WS-1A)
DMSP Block 5D-3 (WS-1B)
|WS-2A||-||DMSP Block 6 (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program 6; cancelled)|
|LS-3A/B||TRW/AESC||DSP (Defense Support Program) (LS-3A)
DSP-I (DSP-Improved) (LS-3B)
|ES-4A||TRW||DSCS II (Defense Satellite Communications System II)|
|ES-5A||General Electric||DSCS III (Defense Satellite Communications System III)|
|LS-6A||-||BSTS (Boost Surveillance and Tracking System; cancelled)|
|NS-7A/.../E||Boeing (Rockwell)||Navstar GPS I (Global Positioning System) (NS-7A)
GPS II (NS-7B)
GPS IIA (NS-7C)
GPS IIR (NS-7D)
GPS IIF (NS-7E)
|LS-9A||-||SSTS (Space Surveillance and Tracking System; cancelled)|
|LS-10A||-||SBR (Space Based Radar Satellite System; cancelled)|
|XSS-10A (see note 1)||Boeing||(USAF experimental micro-satellite program)|
|(S-11)||Not assigned (see note 2)|
|(S-12)||Not assigned (see note 2)|
|(S-13)||Not assigned (see note 3)|
|ES-14A||Boeing||WGS (Wideband Global SATCOM)|
|LS-15A||Ball Aerospace||(see note 4)|
|LS-16A||Lockheed Martin||SBIRS (Space-Based Infrared System)|
|ES-17A||Lockheed Martin||AEHF (Advanced Extremely High Frequency)|
1. The S-10 slot in the satellite series was reused for unknown reasons. The "XSS" prefix of the MDS designation has since been used as an acronym with various interpretations ("Experimental Small Satellite", "Experimental Spacecraft System", "Experimental Satellite System").
2. Other than XSS-10A, the designations of the XSS-11 and XSS-12 follow-on programs are not official MDS designators. However, because of the relatively wide-spread use of the XSS-11 and -12 labels, the numbers S-11 and -12 have not been assigned to other satellite programs to avoid confusion. It is quite possible that "XSS-11A" and "XSS-12A" will be retroactively allocated as official MDS designations to the XSS-11/12 programs.
3. The design number 13 has been skipped, because that number is not used anymore in any MDS designations (triskaidekaphobia).
4. The designation LS-15A might refer to the satellites of the SBSS (Space-Based Space Surveillance) system, but this is unconfirmed.
Many military satellite systems, including all reconnaissance and intelligence satellites, never received MDS designations. The following list does not include satellites, which were already out of service, when the designation series for satellites was introduced in 1988/89.
In no particular order:
 John M. Andrade: "U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials 1909-1979", Midland, 1979
 Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979
 Department of Defense Publication 4120.15-L: "Model Designation of Military Aerospace Vehicles", 1974, 1977, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1998 and 2004 editions
 Department of Defense: "Model Designation of Military Aircraft, Rockets and Missiles", 7/1964, 1/1965, 7/1965, 1/1970 editions
 Department of Defense Missile Nomenclature Records