|"PRO_Iran (Islamic Republic of)"|
|"PRO_Republic of Korea"|
|"PRO_United Arab Emirates"|
|"PRO_United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"|
|"PRO_United States of America"|
|"PRO_Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)"|
|notes||"The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile which entered service with the US Navy in 1956 and subsequently was adopted by the US Air Force in 1964. Since then the Sidewinder has proved to be an enduring international success, and its latest variants are still standard equipment in most western-aligned air forces. The Soviet K-13, a reverse-engineered copy of the AIM-9, was also widely adopted by a number of nations.
Low-level development started in the late 1940s, emerging in the early 1950s as a guidance system for the modular Zuni rocket. This modularity allowed for the introduction of newer seekers and rocket motors, including the AIM-9C variant, which used semi-active radar homing and served as the basis of the AGM-122 Sidearm anti-radar missile. Originally a tail-chasing system, early models saw extensive use during the Vietnam War but had a low success rate. This led to all-aspect capabilities in the L version which proved to be an extremely effective weapon during combat in the Falklands War and the Operation Mole Cricket 19 ("Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot") in Lebanon. Its adaptability has kept it in service over newer designs like the AIM-95 Agile and SRAAM that were intended to replace it.
The Sidewinder is the most widely used air-to-air missile in the West, with more than 110,000 missiles produced for the U.S. and 27 other nations, of which perhaps one percent have been used in combat. It has been built under license by some other nations including Sweden, and can even equip helicopters, such as the Bell AH-1Z Viper. The AIM-9 is one of the oldest, least expensive, and most successful air-to-air missiles, with an estimated 270 aircraft kills in its history of use. When firing a Sidewinder, NATO pilots use the brevity code FOX-2
The United States Navy hosted a 50th-anniversary celebration for the Sidewinder in 2002. Boeing won a contract in March 2010 to support Sidewinder operations through to 2055, guaranteeing that the weapons system will remain in operation until at least that date. Air Force Spokeswoman Stephanie Powell noted that due to its relatively low cost, versatility, and reliability it is "very possible that the Sidewinder will remain in Air Force inventories through the late 21st century".
The AIM-9 is made up of a number of different components manufactured by different companies, including Aerojet and Raytheon. The missile is divided into four main sections: guidance, target detector, warhead, and rocket motor.
The guidance and control unit (GCU) contains most of the electronics and mechanics that enable the missile to function. At the very front is the IR seeker head utilizing the rotating reticle, mirror, and five CdS cells or "pan and scan" staring array (AIM-9X), electric motor, and armature, all protruding into a glass dome. Directly behind this are the electronics that gather data, interpret signals, and generate the control signals that steer the missile. An umbilical on the side of the GCU attaches to the launcher, which detaches from the missile at launch. To cool the seeker head, a 5,000 psi (34 MPa) argon bottle (TMU-72/B or A/B) is carried internally in Air Force AIM-9L/M variants, while the Navy uses a rail-mounted nitrogen bottle. The AIM-9X model contains a Stirling cryo-engine to cool the seeker elements. Two electric servos power the canards to steer the missile (except AIM-9X). At the back of the GCU is a gas grain generator or thermal battery (AIM-9X) to provide electrical power. The AIM-9X features high off-boresight capability; together with JHMCS (Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System), this missile is capable of locking on to a target that is in its field of regard said to be up to 90 degrees off boresight. The AIM-9X has several unique design features including built-in test to aid in maintenance and reliability, an electronic safe and arm device, an additional digital umbilical similar to the AMRAAM and jet vane control.
Next is a target detector with four IR emitters and detectors that detect whether the target is moving farther away. When it detects this action taking place, it sends a signal to the warhead safe and arm device to detonate the warhead. Versions older than the AIM-9L featured an influence fuze that relied on the target's magnetic field as input. Current trends in shielded wires and non-magnetic metals in aircraft construction rendered this obsolete.
The AIM-9H model contained a 25 lb (11 kg) expanding rod-blast fragmentary warhead. All other models up to the AIM-9M contained a 22 lb (10.0 kg) annular-blast fragmentary warhead. The missile's warhead rods can break rotor blades (an immediately fatal event for any helicopter).
Recent models of the AIM-9 are configured with an annular-blast fragmentation warhead, the WDU-17B by Argotech Corporation. The case is made from spirally wound spring steel filled with 8 lb (3.6 kg) of PBXN-3 explosive. The warhead features a safe/arm device requiring five seconds at 20 g (~200 m/s²) acceleration before the fuze is armed, giving a minimum range of approximately 2.5 km (1.6 mi).
The Mk36 solid-propellant rocket motor provides propulsion for the missile. A reduced-smoke propellant makes it difficult for a target to see and avoid the missile. This section also features the launch lugs used to hold the missile to the rail of the missile launcher. The forward of the three lugs has two contact buttons that electrically activate the motor igniter. The fins provide stability from an aerodynamic point of view, but it is the "rollerons" at the end of the wings providing gyroscopic precession to free-hinging control surfaces in the tail that prevent the missile from spinning in flight. The wings and fins of the AIM-9X are much smaller and control surfaces are reversed from earlier Sidewinders with the control section located in the rear, while the wings up front provide stability. The AIM-9X also features vectored thrust or jet vane control to increase maneuverability and accuracy, with four vanes inside the exhaust that move as the fins move. The last upgrade to the missile motor on the AIM-9X is the addition of a wire harness that allows communication between the guidance section and the control section, as well as a new 1760 bus to connect the guidance section with the launcher's digital umbilical."|
|proliferation||"Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czechia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)"|
|"Iran (Islamic Republic of)"|
|"Republic of Korea"|
|"United Arab Emirates"|
|"United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"|
|"United States of America"|
|"Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)"|
|name||"AIM-9 Sidewinder Missile"|
|value||"Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile"|
|value||"WDU-17/B annular blast-frag"|
|value||"IR proximity fuze"|
|value||"Hercules/Bermite Mk. 36 Solid-fuel rocket"|
|value||"1.0 to 35.4 km"|
|value||"Infrared homing (most models)
semi-active radar homing (AIM-9C)"|
|value||"Aircraft, naval vessels, fixed launchers, and ground vehicles"|
|notes||"As a Semi-Active Radar Homing (SARH) missile, the AIM-9C could be used from the frontal aspect of the target, provided a radar lock of sufficient quality was obtained."|
|notes||"The next major advance in IR Sidewinder development was the AIM-9L ("Lima") model which was in full production in 1977. This was the first "all-aspect" Sidewinder with the ability to attack from all directions, including head-on, which had a dramatic effect on close-in combat tactics. Its first combat use was by a pair of US Navy F-14s in the Gulf of Sidra in 1981 versus two Libyan Su-22 Fighters, both of the latter being destroyed by AIM-9Ls. Its first use in a large-scale conflict was by the United Kingdom during the 1982 Falklands War. In this campaign the "Lima" reportedly achieved kills from 80% of launches, a dramatic improvement over the 10–15% levels of earlier versions, scoring 17 kills and 2 shared kills against Argentine aircraft."|
|notes||"The subsequent AIM-9M ("Mike") has the all-aspect capability of the L model while providing all-around higher performance. The M model has improved capability against infrared countermeasures, enhanced background discrimination capability, and a reduced-smoke rocket motor. These modifications increase its ability to locate and lock-on to a target and decrease the chance of missile detection. Deliveries of the initial AIM-9M-1 began in 1982. The only changes from the AIM-9L to the AIM-9M were related to the Guidance Control Section (GCS). Several models were introduced in pairs with even numbers designating Navy versions and odd for USAF: AIM-9M-2/3, AIM-9M-4/5, and AIM-9M-6/7 which was rushed to the Persian Gulf area during Operation Desert Shield (1991) to address specific threats expected to be present."|
|notes||"The Navy began development of AIM-9R, a Sidewinder seeker upgrade in 1987 that featured a focal-plane array (FPA) seeker using video-camera type charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors and featuring increased off-boresight capability. The technology at the time was restricted to visual (daylight) use only and the USAF did not agree on this requirement, preferring another technology path. AIM-9R reached flight test stage before it was cancelled and subsequently both services agreed to a joint development of the AIM-9X variant."|
|notes||"China Lake developed an improved compressed carriage control configuration titled BOA. ("Compressed carriage" missiles have smaller control surfaces to allow more missiles to fit in a given space. The surfaces may be permanently "clipped", or may fold out when the missile is launched.)
The BOA design reduced size of control surfaces, eliminating the rollerons, and returned to simple forward-canard design. Although the Navy and Air Force had jointly developed and procured AIM-9L/M, BOA was a Navy-only effort supported by internal China Lake Independent Research & Development (IR&D) funding. Meanwhile, the Air Force was pursuing a parallel effort to develop a compressed carriage version of Sidewinder, called Boxoffice, for the F-22. The Joint Chiefs of Staff directed that the services collaborate on AIM-9X, which ended these separate efforts. The results of BOA and Boxoffice were provided to the industry teams competing for AIM-9X, and elements of both can be found in the AIM-9X design."|
|notes||"After looking at advanced short range missile designs during the AIM portion of the ACEVAL/AIMVAL Joint Test and Evaluation at Nellis AFB in the 1974–78 timeframe, the Air Force and Navy agreed on the need for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile AMRAAM. However, agreement over development of an Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile ASRAAM was problematic and disagreement between the Air Force and Navy over design concepts (Air Force had developed AIM-82 and Navy had flight-tested Agile and flown it in AIMVAL). Congress eventually insisted the services work on a joint effort resulting in the AIM-9M, thereby compromising without exploring the improved off boresight and kinematic capability potential offered by Agile. In 1985, the Soviet Union did field a short range missile (SRM) (AA-11 Archer/R-73) that was very similar to Agile. At that point, the Soviet Union took the lead in SRM technology and correspondingly fielded improved infrared countermeasures (IRCM) to defeat or reduce the effectiveness of the latest Sidewinders. With the reunification of Germany and improved relations in the aftermath of the Soviet Union, the West became aware of how potent both the AA-11 and IRCM were and SRM requirements were readdressed."|
|notes||"Testing work on the AIM-9X Block II version began in September 2008. The Block II adds Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, so the missile can be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards by an aircraft with the proper equipment for 360 degree engagements, such as the F-35 and F-22. By January 2013, the AIM-9X Block II was about halfway through its operational testing and performing better than expected. NAVAIR reported that the missile was exceeding performance requirements in all areas, including lock-on after launch (LOAL). One area where the Block II needs improvement is helmetless high off-boresight (HHOBS) performance. It is functioning well on the missile, but performance is below that of the Block I AIM-9X. The HHOBS deficiency does not impact any other Block II capabilities, and is planned to be improved upon by a software clean-up build. Objectives of the operational test were due to be completed by the third quarter of 2013. However, as of May 2014 there have been plans to resume operational testing and evaluation (including surface-to-air missile system compatibility). As of June 2013, Raytheon has delivered 5,000 AIM-9X missiles to the armed services."|
|notes||"In September 2012, Raytheon was ordered to continue developing the Sidewinder into a Block III variant, even though the Block II had not yet entered service. The USN projected that the new missile would have a 60 percent longer range, modern components to replace old ones, and an insensitive munitions warhead, which is more stable and less likely to detonate by accident, making it safer for ground crews. The need for the AIM-9 to have an increased range was from digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammers that can blind the onboard radar of an AIM-120D AMRAAM, so the Sidewinder Block III's passive imaging infrared homing guidance system was a useful alternative. Although it could supplement the AMRAAM for beyond visual range (BVR) engagements, it would still be capable at performing within visual range (WVR). Modifying the AIM-9X was seen as a cost-effective alternative to developing a new missile in a time of declining budgets. To achieve the range increase, the rocket motor would have a combination of increased performance and missile power management. The Block III would "leverage" the Block II's guidance unit and electronics, including the AMRAAM-derived datalink."|