AIM-9X Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missile, United States of America
The AIM-9X is the newest member in the family of AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range missiles produced by Raytheon. It is an infrared air-to-air missile primarily developed for the US Air Force and the US Navy. The AIM-9X is currently in service with over 40 countries across the world.
The US Air Force requires 5,080 Sidewinder missiles, while the US Navy plans to buy 5,000 missiles. The AIM-9X is also being supplied to Nato member countries and other US allied nations.
In October 2012, the Netherlands requested 28 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II missiles.
In July 2012, Morocco and the US exercised a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for AIM-9X Block II missiles.
AIM-9X Sidewinder development
The AIM-9X was developed under a joint US Navy and UASF programme. The AIM-9X acquisition programme is focused on fulfilling the urgent requirements of aircraft and troops by providing a next-generation Sidewinder to replace the AIM-9M missile.
The first AIM-9X missile was successfully launched in March 1999. Between 1999-2000 13 separation and control test launches and 12 guided launches were made from the US Navy's F/A-18 and USAF F-15 aircraft.
The first low-rate initial production contract for AIM-9X was awarded in November 2000. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) was accomplished in November 2003 and full-rate production was approved in May 2004.
The AIM-9X Block II completed its first test firing in November 2008. Also known as AIM-9X-2, the missile is an upgraded variant with a lock-on-after-launch feature. The AIM-9X Block II is also equipped with redesigned fuse and a unidirectional forward-quarter data-link.
Design features of AIM-9X Sidewinder
The AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) is a new generation all-weather, missile manufactured by Raytheon.
The AIM-9X incorporates an agile thrust vector controlled airframe. It uses a high-performance staring focal plane array sensor and integrates components such as rocket motor, warhead and fuse of AIM-9M. The digital design architecture of the missile can adapt enhancements for future requirements.
The missile has a length of 3m, diameter of 12.7cm, a fin span of 44.4cm and a wing span of 35.3cm. It weighs approximately 85kg. It can carry a 9.36kg annular blast fragmentation warhead to a range of more than ten miles.
Guidance and navigation
The infrared (IR) homing guidance section performs the tracking and guidance functions. The AIM-9X is a system-guided missile employing a mid-wave IR FPA seeker. The seeker, equipped with High Off-Boresight (HOBS), can be used with a helmet-mounted sight for wider attack envelope. It uses passive infrared (IR) energy for target acquisition and tracking. After the launch, the seeker follows the heat signature from the engines of the hostile aircraft.
The IR homing ensures the launch of the missile during day/night and in electronic countermeasure (ECM) environment. The missile can engage targets in the near beyond visual range (NBVR) and within visual range (WVR) areas.
The propulsion for the AIM-9X is provided by Mk 36 rocket motor integrating a thrust vector control package. The solid propulsion motor uses a reduced-smoke hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) propellant. The cylindrical grain form and integrated control actuation system enhance the range and manoeuvrability of the missile.
AIM-9X orders and deliveries
In March 2012, Raytheon received a $97m modification contract for the Lot 12 low rate initial production of 19 and 120 AIM-9X Block II missiles for South Korea and Saudi Arabia respectively.
As of September 2012, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman and Poland also made requests for the acquisition of AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II missiles.
In December 2004, Raytheon received a $158m contract from US Naval Air Systems Command for the production of 443 all-up-round AIM-9X missiles, 153 AIM-9X training missiles and associated equipment.
The Global Missiles and Missile Defence Systems Market 2011-2021
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