The Republic of Korea is set to fortify its defence capabilities with the approved acquisition of AIM-9X Block II and Block II+ Sidewinder Missiles from Raytheon Missiles and Defense. 

The $52.1m deal, given the green light by the US State Department, aims to enhance Korean security and foster regional stability in the Indo-Pacific.

In a move to enhance the defence capabilities of a key ally, the United States has approved the Republic of Korea’s acquisition of AIM-9X Block II and Block II+ Sidewinder Missiles. The deal, with an estimated cost of $52.1m, includes forty-two AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II+ Tactical Missiles, ten AIM-9X Sidewinder Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM), five AIM-9X Block II+ Sidewinder Tactical Guidance Units (GU), and three AIM-9X Sidewinder CATM Guidance Units (GU).

The AIM-9X, a missile with air-to-air, surface-attack, and surface-launch capabilities, is globally utilised, with the Block II variant featuring enhanced electronics for beyond-visual range engagements. The missile is compatible with various aircraft and launchers. 

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The Defense Security Cooperation Agency formally notified Congress of this potential sale, emphasising its alignment with the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States. The Republic of Korea’s enhanced capabilities are crucial in addressing current and future threats, fostering interoperability with the US and other regional allies.

The proposed sale, facilitated by Raytheon Missiles and Defense, Tucson, AZ, is expected to support Korea’s role as a stabilising force in the Indo-Pacific. The acquisition includes missile containers, spare parts, support and test equipment, personnel training, and other logistics support services. 

US government and contractor personnel will be temporarily stationed in the Republic of Korea for programme oversight and support. 

Last year, the US approved a $117m sale of AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to the Netherlands. The same year, Taiwan had been approved for a $85.6m foreign military sale of AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Missiles to enhance Taiwan’s defensive capabilities. 

To meet this demand, the US Department of Defense announced an increase in AIM-9X Sidewinder production, planning to manufacture 2,500 missiles to support the US Air Force, Navy, Army, and Foreign Military partners.