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. The 2-way datalink is the most significant single Block II change, as it allows the missile to fly toward targets its seeker can’t yet see, using target position tracking from its fighter. The Block II also has improved seeker lock-on-after-launch vs. the original AIM-9X, a ‘lofting’ fly-out profile the boosts its range, and better all weather laser fusing against small targets.
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. The end of September 2011 saw the first significant order from the US military for AIM-9X Block II missiles, shortly after successful live fire tests at China Lake, CA. The Lot 12 order followed very soon after, and is no longer an all-USA order.