F-16 launches AIM-9X
(click for AIM-9X zoom)
The AIM-9X is the USA’s newest short-range air-to-air missile, using an advanced array seeker that widens the missile’s “boresight” cone, and allows a TV-like “imaging infrared” picture that’s much harder to fool with decoys. The missile’s maneuvering fins are smaller than previous Sidewinders, lowering aerodynamic drag in flight, but the missile compensates with thrust vectoring in the tail for added maneuverability. The final piece of the puzzle is lock-on after launch capability (the key Block II improvement), which takes full advantage of the improved sighting cone, maneuverability, and low drag. By telling the missile to fly to a designated location and look for a target, kills have even been scored behind the firing aircraft.
That keeps up with modern 5th generation air-air missiles. What steps beyond, is the adaptations to give Sidewinders ground attack capabilities. Successful tests offer high-flying UAVs a dual threat that can protect them from aerial aggression, while offering a precision ranged ground attack weapon that can stand up to the bitter cold and conditions found at high altitudes.
In late June 2010, Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received over $120 million in orders for Lot 10 (FY 2010) production of its AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and associated components. The AIM-9X has been bought by a number of countries around the world, but this order included only the US military and South Korea, plus minor orders for Australia and Singapore…
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