The US Air Force (USAF) has selected Orbital ATK to produce rocket motors for the AIM-9P Sidewinder missile system under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.
The award is the result of a contract definitsed in 2014 and finalised in June this year.
Orbital will undertake a First Article Acceptance Test on the SR116-HP-1 rocket motor before beginning its production for various countries where the missiles are in use.
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is an advanced infrared-tracking, short-range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile, suitable for deployment on various modern aircraft, including the F-15, F-16, F/A-18 and F-4 fighters, A-4, A-6 and AV-8B attack aircraft, and the AH-1 helicopter.
Allied aircraft configured for Sidewinders include the UK’s Tornado and the Sea Harrier, and Sweden’s JA-37 Viggen.
Manufactured by Raytheon, the AIM-9X Block II is the current version of the AIM-9 Sidewinder short range missile family being used by the US and 18 other countries.
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The SR116-HP-1 rocket motor is used to power the AIM-9P version of the Sidewinder missile. One of the several upgrades to the missile is the development of SR116-HP-1 reduced-smoke rocket motor.
The HP-1 motors, which are currently in use, were produced between 1978 and 1990 and are beyond their operational life.
Orbital ATK received a contract to restart production of the SR116-HP-1 rocket motor in 2012 to extend the life of AIM-9P for FMS users.
Orbital ATK’s Missile Products division of the Defense Systems Group vice-president and general manager Pat Nolan said: "Given the effectiveness and popularity of the Sidewinder Missile System, we believe there is strong demand among our allies to extend the life of their existing missiles with new motors and components."
Image: The AIM-9X missile in use on a USAF aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Raytheon Company.