AIM-9X Block II & Beyond: The New Sidewinder Missiles
September 17/18: Repair and Refurbish The US Air Force is contracting Raytheon for materials needed to keep its AIM-9X infrared missile and Captive Air Training Missiles flying. The $24.7 million contract provides for the procurement of urgent spares, containers, and materials needed to repair and refurbish the missile systems. 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 Captive Air Training Missiles is designed to simulate the weight and operations of the AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided missile for training purposes. The contract includes the procurement of four active optical target detectors (AOTD) and radio frequency (RF) data links, four tactical guidance units, eight CATM guidance units, five AOTD containers, one Block I propulsion steering section (PSS), one Block 2 PSS for the Navy, and similar acquisitions for the Air Force. Work will be performed at multiple national and international locations including Cheshire, Connecticut; Tucson, Arizona and Heilbronn, Germany and is set to run through March 2021.
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 – 2018
FY 2011 and Earlier
Background: AIM-9 Sidewinder
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