The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-ground tactical missile (AGM) designed for close-air support. It is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities.
Different models of the AGM-65 have used electro-optical, laser, and infra-red guidance systems. The AGM-65 has two types of warheads: one has a contact fuze in the nose, the other has a heavyweight warhead fitted with a delayed-action fuze, which penetrates the target with its kinetic energy before detonating. The latter is most effective against large, hard targets. The propulsion system for both types is a solid-fuel rocket motor behind the warhead.
The Maverick missile is unable to lock onto targets on its own; it has to be given input by the pilot or Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) after which it follows the path to the target autonomously (fire-and-forget). In an A-10, for example, the video fed from the seeker head is relayed to a screen in the cockpit, where the pilot can check the locked target of the missile before launch. A crosshair on the head-up display (HUD) is shifted by the pilot to set the approximate target while the missile will then automatically recognize and lock on to the target. Once the missile is launched, it requires no further assistance from the launch vehicle and tracks its target automatically. This fire-and-forget property is not shared by the E version that uses semi-active laser homing.