In 1962, the U.S. Navy
issued a requirement for a long-range high-precision air-to-surface missile. The missile, named the AGM-53A Condor
, was to use a television guidance system with a data link to the launching aircraft similar to the system of the then projected AGM-62 Walleye
Because of numerous problems in the development phase, the first flight of an XAGM-53A missile did not occur before March 1970. The AGM-53 program was cancelled in March 1976. Its long range and potentially high precision made the Condor a very powerful weapon, but it was much more expensive than contemporary tactical air-to-ground weapons. The secure data link contributed a significant portion to total missile cost, and it certainly didn't help that this link was still somewhat unreliable.
The Condor was to be a long-range missile to be used for high-precision stand-off attacks. The missile was launched by the strike aircraft from a distance of up to to the general target area. When the AGM-53 approached the expected target position, the image of the TV camera in the missile's nose was transmitted back to the operator in the launching aircraft. The operator could switch between wide and narrow field-of-view images to find a suitable target.
As soon as a target for the missile had been selected, the operator could either fly the missile manually until impact, or lock the Condor on the target and rely on the missile's capability to home on the final aiming point.... Read More