The AGM-89 is an aircraft-launched GPS-guided anti-ship cruise missile with folding wings. It has several attack modes and can navigate to a waypoint or along a path. The missile has built-in navigational systems for automatically avoiding terrain or other objects in the way of its flight path. It turns on its radar during its terminal phase (when it's near its final waypoint) to find and home in on a target. Therefore, there is no way to specify a certain ship, or any ground unit, for the missile to hit. There is, although, another cruise missile available, the AGM-161, specifically designed for hitting targets at long range. In the case of either cruise missile, the user should lead the targets' future position so that the target will be within the missile's detection field of view once it enters its terminal phase.
An attack mode can be chosen in the AGM-89's section on the EQUIP page.
- Direct - The missile acts like the AGM-65 and flies directly to the terminal waypoint. It will still turn on its radar to search for a ship, so this does not allow it to hit GPS and non-naval targets. This mode is generally somewhat unsafe to use in terms of missile survivability, but it's a good option for when a deploying aircraft doesn't have enough time to set up a complex GPS path to the missile's destination.
- Sea-Skim - The missile flies within a mere dozen feet of the waterline to evade radar detection. It impacts its target ship along the waterline, intending to sink the ship via a well-placed hull breach. To ensure missile survivability with this mode, line your points up so that the missile impacts its target from their stern; this will give it an edge over their CIWS turrets as they will need more time to turn around and engage the incoming missile.
- SSEvasive (Sea-Skim Evasive) - This mode is the same as Sea-Skim, but once it nears its terminal phase, it starts swerving along the water's surface to avoid hostile CIWS. This mode is arguably the best option for ensuring that the missile hits its target successfully; the swerving motion tends to strain the lead-tracking algorithms of CIWS turrets, making the missile more likely to dodge them and hit its target. The missile will still impact the target's hull, directly at the waterline, so there's a slim chance that the missile could be ineffective in this mode.
- Popup - The missile flies in SS Evasive mode, and once it reaches its terminal phase, it propels itself upwards to hit the target's topside superstructure. This mode is arguably the best mode for ensuring target destruction, due to the fact that the outer deck of a ship is typically weaker than the rest of its hull. Even if the cruise missile doesn't sink the ship, it will still deal extreme damage to its radar and/or weapon systems, making it more vulnerable to destruction through alternate means.
How To Use
- The user must first designate a waypoint in the GPS. Using the Targeting Pod (TGP)'s GPS-S(end) feature could be helpful here. The missile will path towards the highlighted waypoint when first launched. Then, use your NAV MFCD page to designate a path of GPS points towards the missile's destination and enable PATH mode on your GPS page. Make sure to move the GPS point for the missile's final destination to the bottom of the list.
- Highlight the first point on the missile's path in the GPS page and point the missile's targeting reticle at it. The yellow cockpit lights will illuminate and the reticle will snap to the waypoint to authorize a launch. Pull the trigger on your controller to launch a missile. There is a time delay until it recovers from free fall, but there is no lock out or warning to stop the user from releasing the missile too low as with the CBU-97 Bomb.
- The missile is now completely autonomous. It can be monitored as it appears on the NAV MFCD page as a friendly unit similar to the symbology on the RADAR. You can also use your S-CAM (Spectator Cam) MFCD page to track the missile by putting the S-CAM in Missile (MSSL) mode and selecting the 'Chase' camera option. The TGP cannot lock onto the cruise missile.
- Once at the last (or only) waypoint, the missile will designate a naval target using its built-in radar. It will home in on it using its designated Terminal mode and, if it manages to avoid CIWS, hit the target hard.