I hadn’t really intended to start a series on various missiles, but I enjoy watching the youtube videos, so I might as well share with you.
Back in the early 1980s, the Navy faced the challenge of small missile armed fast attack craft in close waters such as the Mediterranean Sea or the Persian Gulf. Widely used, ships such as the Osa II or La Combatantte III were capable of dashing out from port, firing a salvo of anti-ship missiles, and scurrying back to port. While the Navy had the R/U/AGM-84 family of Harpoon missiles to attack surface targets, the Navy also wanted more than one weapon available. Further, the Harpoon had a relatively small warhead, and something a little bit heavier was wanted. But even during the Reagan buildup, money for new weapons was tight.
Someone at the Naval Weapons Center China Lake (the same bright folks that brought us the AIM-9 Sidewinder) had the nifty idea of using a laser guided bomb as the basis for a new missile. By strapping two surplus rocket motors from the obsolete AGM-45 Shrike missile to the back of a 1000 pound GBU-16 LGB, they could achieve a standoff range of about 15 kilometers, more than enough to keep the launching aircraft out of anti-aircraft missile range of most small attack aircraft. And its heavy warhead was almost certain to knock any small warship out of the fight. The resulting AGM-123 Skipper II served for several years, and saw some combat action. It was a simple, quick, cheap solution to a nagging problem, and the development costs were very low. No wonder the Air Force never adopted it.
There never was a Skipper I, by the way. The “II” refers to the fact that the Skipper was built using the Paveway II guidance package.