The US State Department has approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to the Government of Italy of AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $90.6m, according to a 15 March announcement by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

Italy had requested the acquisition of 28 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II+ missile, four AIM-9X Block II+ tactical guidance units, eight AIM-9X captive air training missiles (CATM), that will be added to previously implemented FMS cases whose whole value was under the Congressional notification threshold.

The original FMS cases, valued at $34.1m and $17.6m respectively, included a total of 38 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II+ missiles; three AIM-9X Block II+ tactical guidance units; 16 AIM-9X CATM; and two AIM-9X CATM guidance units.

All told, the notification will see 66 AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II+ missiles sold to Italy, along with associated equipment.  

According to GlobalData analysis, incumbent Italy Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has made it part of her agenda to overcome traditional Italian reluctance for long-term defence planning, with spending expected to increase by $8.2bn from 2023-2028, rising to $38.5bn by the end of the forecast period.

The AIM-9X Block II+ missile, the latest iteration of the Sidewinder family of missiles, is an infrared air-to-air missile primarily developed for the US Air Force and US Navy but has since been incorporated into the munition inventories of air forces around the world.

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The full-rate production of the AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II infrared air-to-air missile began following the US Navy’s approval in September 2015.

AIM-9X can be integrated with a wide range of aircraft, including E/A-18G, F/A-18C/D, F-15, F-15C, F/A-18E/F, F-15E, F-16, F-22, and F-35 models. GlobalData fleet lists show that Italy maintains 16 F-35A and three F-35B stealth fighters.

Global MMDS market to show moderate growth

Further GlobalData analysis of the missile and missile defence systems (MMDS) market forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2% from 2023 to reach a value of $67.9bn by 2033. The cumulative market for global MMDS is anticipated to be valued at $657.4 billion over the forecast period.

The global MMDS market is expected to be led by Europe, with a revenue share of 31.1%. Asia-Pacific is anticipated to be the second-largest market globally, with a revenue share of 29.2% between 2023 and 2033 and a CAGR of 3.9%.

Of the MMDS market, the missile segment is anticipated to be the leading segment, accounting for a 58.3% share out of the two primary MMDS business areas from 2023-2033.