AIM-9X Block II & Beyond: The New Sidewinder Missiles
January 25/16: The USAF has successfully tested the AIM-9X missile on the F-35 fighter for the first time. The test of the heat-seeking missile took place on January 12 at the Pacific Sea Test range. The F-35 will eventually carry two AIM-9X missiles on its wings, and four of the the radar-guided AIM-120 missiles internally. The success of the test moves integration of the AIM-9X forward, with introduction across the F-35 fleet expected in Block 3F in 2017.
Raytheon’s AIM-9X Block II would have made Top Gun a very short movie. It’s the USA’s most advanced short range air-air missile, capable of using its datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker to hit targets behind the launching fighter. Unlike previous AIM-9 models, the AIM-9X can even be used against targets on the ground.
These changes will help keep it competitive against foreign missiles like MBDA UK’s AIM-132 ASRAAM, RAFAEL of Israel’s Python 5, the multinational German-led IRIS-T, and Russia’s R73/ AA-11 Archer. So far, only American fighter types can use AIM-9X missiles, but that hasn’t stopped a slew of export requests and sales, especially in the Middle East.
AIM-9X: The Program
Block II+ Program and Sales
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2015 – 2016
FY 2011 and Earlier
Background: AIM-9 Sidewinder
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