AIM-9X Sidewinder

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Product Type:

Short Range Air-to-Air Missile

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF) and Navy

Program Status:

Full Rate Production (AIM-9X Block II)

Prime Contractor:

Raytheon Company

The AIM-9X Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missile

About the AIM-9X Sidewinder:

The Raytheon Air Intercept Missile-9X (AIM-9X) is the latest addition to the Sidewinder Family of short-range air-to-air missiles, the most widely used air-to-air missile - currently in service with more than 40 countries.

The first Sidewinder missile was developed in the 1950s. The AIM-9A prototype was fired successfully for the first time in September 1953. The initial production version, designated AIM-9B, entered operational use in 1956. The AIM-9B was effective only at close range.

The AIM-9X is the fifth generation Sidewinder and is now in production. The AIM-9X features a high off-boresight focal-plane array seeker mounted on a highly maneuverable airframe with a greatly improved infrared anti-countermeasures capability.

The AIM-9X provides a launch-and-leave air combat missile capability, which uses passive infrared energy for acquisition and tracking of enemy aircraft. It is a joint U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force program (led by the Navy). The AIM-9X achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in November 2003 and full rate production was approved in May 2004. The AIM-9X is equipped with a conventional WDU-17/B blast fragmentation warhead and the Mk 139 Sidewinder single-thrust propulsion system manufactured by Orbital ATK. Complemented by the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), the AIM-9X provides offensive firepower - unmatched by any other weapon system in the world. The AIM-9X is compatible with the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS).

The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy are currently purchasing the AIM-9X Block II, which (compared to the Block I missile) adds a lock-on-after launch capability and a one-way forward quarter datalink capability. IOC was declared for the Block II missile in March 2015 and Full Rate Production (FRP) commenced in August 2015.

An AIM-9X Block III missile was planned, however, the Navy's FY 2016 budget cancelled the development effort. Raytheon is instead working on the AIM-9X Block II Plus and missile hardware upgrades.

By June 2013, Raytheon announced it had delivered 5,000 AIM-9X missiles to the U.S. military and nine international customers. In September 2015, Raytheon announced that the AIM-9X had 18 international customers, including nine original Block I customers and by nine new and five repeat Block II customers.

Differences Between the AIM-9X and AIM-9M

The AIM-9X retains several components from the previous Sidewinder generation, the AIM-9M (fuse, rocket motor, and warhead), but incorporates a new airframe with much smaller fins and canards, and relies in a jet-vane steering system for significantly enhanced agility. The new guidance unit incorporates an advanced Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker.


The AIM-9X Sidewinder is currently fielded on Navy F/A-18C/D Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft as well as the U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. It will be integrated on the F-15E Strike Eagle. Also, the AIM-9X will be carried by the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) and the Air Force F-22 Raptor.

AIM-9X Production Forecast:

A 15-year AIM-9X Sidewinder production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, worldwide inventories, a complete program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year AIM-9X production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Missile Forecast service.


The mission of the AIM-9X is to destroy low and high altitude, high-speed enemy targets in an electronic countermeasures environment.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - AIM-9X DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Raytheon Co., and Orbital ATK.

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