The US Air Force’s (USAF) 90th Fighter Squadron based in Elmendorf-Richardson has equipped an F-22 Raptor with an AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Tactical Missiles.
USAF3rd Wing weapons manager chief master Sergeant Chuck Jenkins said: "This has been in the inventory for the Air Force and Navy for some years; it’s nothing new to the military. But to put it on the Ferrari of aircraft, the F-22, the most advanced aircraft we have, it gives the pilots more manoeuvrability, larger range, and it’s a much faster missile.
"Giving that to a combat commander downrange really increases his capabilities."
This will be followed by a qualification process for the load crews to load AIM-9Xs onto F-22s, which will be required to be maintained on a monthly basis.
The AIM-9X advanced infrared missile is the newest of the Sidewinder family of short-range air-to-air missiles. This new development marks the latest phase in bringing the Raptor closer to using the missile operationally.
According to the USAF, the AIM-9X missile has a digital guidance system and infrared signal processing that offers an improved acquisition ranges and enhanced infrared counter-countermeasures capability.
In addition, it will provide extremely high off-boresight engagement zones for unprecedented first shot, first kill air-to-air performance.
USAF commander of the 90th Fighter Squadron lieutenant colonel David Skalicky said: "This missile makes the most lethal combat aircraft the world has ever seen even more capable.
"It’s a giant enhancement to the already formidable F-22 arsenal.
"We’ve invested a lot of resources getting this missile to the combat Air Force, and now it’s finally here."
Image: A Senior Airman works on a key part needed to equip the Air Intercept Missile-9X to an F-22 Raptor. Photo: courtesy of Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson / US Air Force.