Originally developed by Sperry and the U.S. Navy, Sparrow's later versions were developed and produced by Raytheon Co. and General Dynamics. Subsequent versions were dubbed the "dog-fight modification" because its increased maneuverability at short range made it better suited for close-in visual engagements.
The Navy's RIM-7M Sea Sparrow and the Air Force's AIM-7 Sparrow are radar-guided, air-to-air missiles with high explosive warheads. They have a cylindrical body with four wings at mid-body and four tail fins. The Navy uses the Sea Sparrow version aboard ships as a surface-to-air anti-missile defense. The versatile Sparrow has all-weather, all-altitude operational capability and can attack high-performance aircraft and missiles from any direction. It is widely deployed by U.S. and NATO forces. The Sea Sparrow is found aboard many U.S. and NATO surface warships.