Air defense missile MIM-23 Hawk manufactured by the US, put into service in 1959; More than 60 years later, the MIM-23 is still in-service with the militaries around the world
The MIM-23 Hawk air defense missile system , first entered service in the US Army in 1959, as one of the world’s first surface-to-air missile systems,Today, the MIM-23 air defense missile , along with the MIM-104 Patriot and the FIM-92 Stinger (which entered service in the early 1980s), remains one of the best American air defense systems ever tested.
MIM-23 has been exported to more than 20 defense customers who are allies and partners of the US; making it the most widely used, non-Soviet anti-aircraft missile of the Cold War .The Soviet S-75(SAM-2) missiles and MIM-23 were comparable in mission, although the American MIM-23 was more maneuverable, while the Soviet S-75 was faster. significantly more powerful, longer range and capable of reaching higher altitudes, with nearly three times the payload.
Both the MIM-23 and the S-75 have been modernized and although both were retired from service by the US and Russian militaries shortly after the end of the Cold War; but they are still in widespread service in the air defense forces of many countries around the world.The MIM-23 was widely used by the US Army, but it was never fired at an enemy aircraft by the US Army; although the MIM-23 has been deployed to deal with a number of crises, such as the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, etc.
The MIM-23 has been mostly used by the Iranian military since 1979, the former US ally had to rely heavily on the MIM-23 anti-aircraft missile, during the Iran-Iraq War, Similar to the effectiveness of the AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missile, which was carried by the F-14 heavy fighter of the Iranian Air Force, the MIM-23 missile was recorded to have shot down more than 30 fighters of the Iraq Air Force.; but the MIM-23 was powerless against the MiG-25RB.
The MIM-23 air defense systems were used by Israel in the mid-1960s, and the first combat firing of the system, during the “Six-Day War of 1967”, shot down Lebanon’s MD-450 light fighter.After that, the MIM-23 was continuously used by the Israeli Army; According to information, the MIM-23 shot down from 8 to 12 Arab fighters, including MiG-17 fighters, Su-7 attack aircraft and possibly Il-28 bombers.
Israel’s ability to use air defense systems is significantly superior to that of its Arab rivals, although the Arab bloc wa equipped with multi-layered air defense systems including S-75, S-125 and 2K12 KuB; where the S-125 and 2K12 KuB are more modern and significantly more maneuverable than the MIM-23.
The limitations of the MIM-23 were perhaps best demonstrated just before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War (October 1973); The MiG-25’s speed of Mach 3.2 and altitude of 24 km makes them completely invulnerable to MIM-23 missiles and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles equipped on the F-4E Phantom.
Since being put into service, the MIM-23 has been fully modernized, the MIM-23B version entered service in 1971, is 5cm shorter in size than its predecessor, but equipped The warhead is almost 50% heavier and the engine is improved.
The MIM-23B version increased the altitude from 11km to 18km and its range increased from 25km to 35km; Although still much lower than the Soviet S-75, but still enough for the MIM-23B to destroy many types of fighters at that time.
Later variants incorporated minor improvements, particularly in the area of electronic warfare. The MIM-23C/D entered service in 1982 incorporating new electronic warfare countermeasures, while the MIM-23E/F entered service in 1990, integrated low-level multi-interference capabilities.
About 40,000 MIM-23 missiles of various designs were produced over a period of about 40 years. Today, the missile is still produced in Iran as the Shahin, with a more advanced variant called the Mersad, which has been in mass production since 2010.Currently, the MIM-23 missile is still fast enough, able to intercept slow-moving fighters such as the F-35, F-18E and JF-17; these aircraft are all below Mach 1.6; or more effective with helicopters, UAVs or cruise missiles.
Most current Russian and Chinese fighters, such as the Su-27/30/35 or J-10/20, are designed to exceed Mach 2.2; along with modern electronic warfare systems, the ability of the MIM-23 is doubted, it is difficult to destroy these machines.
This is especially true, as hypersonic surface-to-air missiles are increasingly becoming the norm, with the most modern anti-aircraft missiles such as the 40N6E of the S-400 air defense system, capable of reaching speeds above Mach ten.
While the MIM-23 has been retired from service in the US Army and many major allies such as Germany, it still plays an important role in the air defenses of Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Iran and Turkey and many other small countries.