AIM-9X missile

The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a contract to Alliant Techsystems (ATK) for the production of rocket motors for AIM-9P Sidewinder missiles, as part of a US foreign military sales (FMS) programme.

As per the terms of the $17m contract, the company will manufacture and deliver rocket motors to help extend the service life of ageing AIM-9P missiles of undisclosed FMS customers.

ATK Missile Products division Tactical Propulsion Market Segment director, Jerry Brode, said the company is looking to re-start production of the AIM-9P rocket motor to support FMS customers’ requirements.

"This rocket motor has a significant history with ATK and has maintained a long-standing position within our portfolio of tactical Sidewinder and air-to-air rocket motor production lines," Brode added.

"The company will manufacture and deliver rocket motors to help extend the service life of ageing AIM-9P missiles."

ATK Defense Group Missile Products division vice president and general manager Cary Ralston said the company will provide the customers with efficient solutions required for reinvigoration and maintenance of the service life of their missile defence systems.

Both the USAF and the company, through the contract, are aiming to help international customers -upgrade their defence systems, without having to make substantial financial investments in new missiles and aircraft.

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Manufactured by Raytheon, the AIM-9 Sidewinder is an advanced infrared-tracking, short-range air-to-air missile designed to provide fighter aircraft pilots with first-shot, first-kill dominance against wide range of battlefield targets.

The AIM-9P Sidewinder is an upgraded variant of the AIM-9J missile, featuring greater engagement boundaries, and is currently in service with Nato countries and other international US allies.

Manufacturing work under the contract is scheduled to be carried out at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL), a US Navy-owned, ATK-operated facility in Rocket Center, West Virginia, US. More than 30,000 AIM-9P rocket motors have been produced by the company at the same facility, between 1978 and 1990.

Image: An AIM-9X air-to-air missile mounted under the wing of an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. Photo courtesy of Tom Reynolds.

Defence Technology