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|Copyright © 2002 Andreas Parsch|
In 1992, the USAF's Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) at Eglin AFB studied the concept of a new tactical rocket-powered standoff air-to-surface missile. The new missile was to be usable from high and low altitude against different types of targets (fixed/mobile, hard/soft), and was to be of modular construction, allowing two different options each for the 360 kg (800 lb) class warhead (blast-fragmentation/penetrating) and seeker unit (Electro-Optical (TV)/Imaging Infrared). The weapon was to use a two-way data link to allow both lock-on after launch and optional corrective action by the operator up to the point of impact. Initial platforms for the missile were to be the F-16 and B-1B aircraft.
In October 1992, the designations XAGM-153A and XAGM-153B were reserved for the variants armed with a blast-fragmentation and a hard target penetrating warhead, respectively. Suffix numbers were assigned to the seeker configurations, XAGM-153A/B-1 for the TV guided and XAGM-153A/B-2 for the IIR guided versions. However, these reserved designations were at that time not officially allocated for public use, pending further viability studies and contractor selection. These studies apparently led to the cancellation of the AGM-153 program before any hardware was built.
Interestingly, the four proposed variants of the AGM-153 missile are very similar in concept (two warhead options, TV/IIR guidance, data link) to the four USAF configurations of the AGM-142 Popeye/Have Nap missile. It's not unlikely that the AGM-153 program was cancelled because of this duplication of capabilities.
The AGM-153 did not progress beyond the concept stage before it was cancelled.
 Department of Defense Missile Nomenclature Records
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