AIM-9X Block II & Beyond: The New Sidewinder Missiles
May 13/15: The Air Force has test fired two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles from a F-22 Raptor fighter. This test-firing is a step towards the F-22’s Increment 3.2B upgrade program, with Lockheed Martin awarded a contract last October to modify 220 F-22 Configurable Rail Launchers to accommodate the AIM-9X. Full operational fielding of the AIM-9X by the F-22 is not expected until 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 2011 and Earlier
Background: AIM-9 Sidewinder
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