The US has initially approved the sale of 24 AIM-9X air-to-air missiles worth $42.4 million, or $1.76 million each.

AIM-9 is a generation of infrared-guided missiles, capable of destroying air targets at a range of 30-35 km. The process of upgrading the AIM-9X missile began in the late 1980s in response to the introduction of the Russian R-73 (AA-11 Archer) missile. The AIM-9X is equipped with a new three-dimensional thrust-vectoring control (TVC) system, combined with a nose rudder fin for high maneuverability in a narrow range.

As a significant upgrade to the Sidewinder series, the AIM-9X features an imaging infrared focal-plane array (FPA) seeker with claimed 90° off-boresight capability, compatibility with helmet-mounted displays. The AIM-9X began to be tested in 1999, mass production began in 2000 and officially entered mass service in 2003.

AIM-9X missile
AIM-9X missile

One of the advanced features of the AIM-9X is the ability to lock the target after launch, so it is suitable for stealth fighters with an internal weapon compartment. Utilizing the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), a pilot can point the AIM-9X missile’s seeker and “lock on” by simply looking at a target, thereby increasing air combat effectiveness.

It retains the same rocket motor, fuze and warhead of its predecessor, but its lower drag gives it improved range and speed. The missile has a length of 3 m, a diameter of 0.127 m, a wingspan of 0.44 m, a weight of 85 kg, a maximum range of 35 km.

The AIM-9X is considered by the world’s military as one of the world’s most powerful infrared-guided air-to-air missiles. Currently AIM-9X has Block I, Block II and Block III versions. While Block I was only produced in limited production from 2000-2003, Block II with some minor improvements has been mass-produced since 2004 and equipped for US allies. The Philippine version ordered is the AIM-9X Block II.

The AIM-9X Block III version began to be researched in 2010 and is expected to enter service in 2022. The AIM-9X Block III is expected to have a more powerful engine, an increased range of about 55km, and the avionics will remain the same as its predecessor.

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