Тема: AIM-9X Sidewinder

The AIM-9X is the USA’s newest short-range air-to-air missile, using an advanced array seeker that widens the missile’s “boresight” cone, and allows a TV-like “imaging infrared” picture that’s much harder to fool with decoys.


The missile’s maneuvering fins are smaller than previous Sidewinders, lowering aerodynamic drag in flight, but the missile compensates with thrust vectoring in the rocket’s exhaust for added maneuverability. The final piece of the puzzle is lock-on after launch capability (the key Block II improvement), which takes full advantage of the 9X’s improved sighting cone, maneuverability, and low drag. By telling the missile to fly to a designated location and look for a target, kills have even been scored behind the firing aircraft.

On the maintenance end, the AIM-9X avoids the need for argon cooling, and the missiles are field reprogrammable rather than forcing a hardware swap out of the circuit cards.

These new capabilities came with one significant cost: because the AIM-9X is all-digital, aircraft that want to fire it need integration work to make them fully compatible. At present, F-16C/D Vipers, F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet family aircraft, F-15C/D Eagles, and some F-15 Strike Eagle variants can use the AIM-9X. It has been bought for F-15 Strike Eagles flown by Singapore (F-15SG) and South Korea (F-15K), and will be integrated with Saudi Arabia’s forthcoming F-15SA Strike Eagles.

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Re: AIM-9X Sidewinder

AIM-9X Block I. The AIM-9X Block I includes limited lock-on-after-launch, full envelope off-boresight capability without a JHMCS helmet mounted display, and improved flare rejection performance against countermeasures. It uses the warhead, fuze, and rocket motor from the previous AIM-9M missile, but adds thrust-vectoring, a new body, a new imaging infrared seeker, a new digital processor, and a new autopilot.

The USA bought 3,097 Block I missiles: 1,745 were USAF, incl. 67 modified from AIM-9Ms in FY 2001. The US Navy bought 1,352, inc. 63 modified from AIM-9Ms in FY 2001. AIM-9X Block I export customers included Australia, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Block I production was terminated early by the US military, and orders ended in FY 2011.

AIM-9X-2. This variant swaps in a new processor, a new ignition battery for the rocket motor, an electronic ignition safety/arm device, better all weather laser fusing against small targets, and the DSU-41/B Active Optical Target Detector (AOTD) fuze/datalink assembly. None of these things radically change performance by themselves, but OFS 8.3 software upgrades help bring them all together.

AIM-9X Block II. A combination of AIM-9X-2 hardware and OFS 8.3+ software. OFS 8.3 added trajectory management to improve range, makes full use of the datalink with the launching aircraft, and improves lock-on-after-launch and target re-acquisition performance. Those capabilities have been refined further in the most current version, OFS 9.3.

Overall, the Block II has about 85% parts commonality with the Block I. The 2-way datalink is the most significant single Block II change, as it allows the missile to fly toward targets its seeker can’t yet see, using target position tracking from its fighter. Improved seeker lock-on-after-launch and re-acquisition makes the missile harder to evade, and the new ‘lofting’ fly-out profile boosts the Block II enough to give it some capabilities beyond visual range.

AIM-9X Block II production began in June 2011. In 2012 the Pentagon moved to terminate the Block I program entirely, in favor of the Block II. The Block II is slated for a full-rate production decision in April 2014, and Initial Operational Capability is scheduled for September 2014.

The USA will buy 6,000 total Block II missiles, under current plans. The USAF will buy 3,352, while the US Navy will buy 2,648. Foreign buys are added over and above, and will help drive down prices thanks to volume production. The current Pentagon budget estimate is roughly $600,000 per missile overall, but current orders are running closer to $500,000, and those prices will drop with enough foreign sales.

Foreign customers for AIM-9X-2 and AIM-9X Block II missiles include Malaysia (F/A-18D), Morocco (F-16C/Ds), Saudi Arabia (F-15s), and Singapore (F-15SG, could add to F-16s).

AIM-9X Block II Export requests are pending from Belgium (F-16 MLU), Kuwait (F/A-18C/D), the Netherlands (F-16 MLU), Oman (F-16C/D), South Korea (if F-15SE or F-35A), and the UAE (F-16E/F).

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Re: AIM-9X Sidewinder

AIM-9X Block II missiles are getting an air-to-surface mode. Manufacturer Raytheon is currently working on porting the software necessary for the transition following the award of a $291.7 million contract by the US Navy. The deal  is for the provision of 660 Lot 16 AIM-9X missiles as well as AIM-9X Block II Captive Air Training Missiles, containers, and spare components for the Navy, USAF, and a number of foreign militaries.

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