Cold War Era

US Naval Aviator recalls when a fellow A-7 Corsair II pilot used a $40K AGM-62 Walleye to destroy a $2K broken-down pickup truck blocking a road intersection during the Vietnam War

The AGM-62 Walleye

Although designated an air-to-ground missile (AGM), the Martin Marietta AGM-62 Walleye was actually an unpowered glide bomb with a nose-mounted television camera to guide it to the target.

The Walleye’s camera sent an image of the target to the pilot’s television screen. Once the pilot “locked” onto the target, he launched the weapon. The Walleye’s onboard guidance system independently compared the locked image with the current image and made course corrections. Since the pilot did not have to control the bomb all the way to the target, the Walleye was known as a “fire and forget” weapon.

Walleyes worked well if a target stood out from the surrounding area, but they had trouble if there was not enough contrast. Also, the weapon’s light weight made it ineffective against targets like bridges.

Using a $40K precision weapon to take out a $2K broken-down pickup truck

The AGM-62 worked well against pickup trucks as David Tussey, former US Navy A-7E Corsair II, explains on Quora;

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-7E Corsair II VA-86 Sidewinders, AJ400 / 159292 / 1977

‘When I first joined Naval Aviation, a number of senior pilots had flown in Vietnam. They flew A-7s, A-4s, and A-1s(!) on ground attack missions.

One A-7 guy told me this story of being diverted from his primary mission (due to weather), and was handed off to a Forward Air Controller (FAC). He was instructed to destroy a broken-down pickup truck that was blocking a road intersection.

‘The only weapon he had was a TV-guided precision weapon, the AGM-62 Walleye.

‘And so, it went…he targeted the broken-down pickup truck with the Walleye, and destroyed it.’

Tussey Concludes;

‘So…we took a precision weapon costing about $40K and in short supply, and took out a $2K broken-down pickup truck. Good grief!

‘But it was a good example of pretty specific targeting — a single truck.’

An AGM-62 Walleye glide bomb mounted on the wing pylon of a US Navy Ling-Temco-Vought A-7C Corsair II

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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