February 29, 2008 (by SrA Steven Doty) - Pilots, maintainers and ammunition troops at Kunsan have been introduced to a new generation weapon that changes the way we look at air to air combat.
Pilots from the 35th FS conduct AIM 9M-X missile training over the South Korean peninsula on February 28th, 2008.
The Air Intercept Missile-9X Sidewinder
, developed by Raytheon engineers, is a fifth generation AIM-9
missile that is a substantial upgrade to the sidewinder family featuring an advanced infra-red seeker and a higher off-boresight capability.
In January, the 80th Fighter Squadron swapped out older block 30
F-16s for newer block 40
F-16s from Eielson AFB
, Alaska. These jets have the capability to carry the AIM-9X.
Capt. Nicolas Evans, Chief of Weapons and Tactics for the 80th Fighter Squadron, feels fortunate to be a part of the first squadron on the Korean peninsula that can employ the newest air-to-air missile.
"Combined with the Block 40 F-16s we received from Alaska," said Captain Evans, "These missiles add an even greater combat capability to our mission here at Kunsan."
The AIM-9X Sidewinder is an important attribute to the 80th FS
as it is compatible with the recently integrated Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System. Combined with the JHMCS, a pilot can control the AIM-9X missile by simply looking at a target offered through the new technology. Together, the two systems are more effective in the sky.
Captain Evans respects this advancement, knowing that this capability puts pilots and Airmen on the ground in a much better position in relation to our oppositions.
"The AIM-9X provides greater survivability against air threats, as it will allow 80 FS pilots the ability to engage enemy aircraft even faster than before." he said.
Offensively, the weapon will assure pilots have the ability to project the necessary power to ensure dominant maneuver. In the defensive counter-air role, the missile system will provide a key capability for force protection.
As with any new system or advancement, there are a number of training requirements to maintain, load or employ that advancement in order to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Captain Evans explained how Kunsan was stepping up to ensure this new technology was implemented as expeditiously and safe as possible.
"Since the AIM-9X arrived, we have been training pilots and others rapidly in order to increase the number of Airmen qualified to maintain, load and employ this weapon," said Captain Evans. "The AIM-9X is a welcome asset to Kunsan as it increases our overall combat effectiveness."
The AIM-9X has the potential for meeting both the effectiveness and suitability requirements for the mission here at Kunsan as Airmen move forward to align the JHMCS with the AIM-9X, proving once again that Kunsan Air Base remains at the tip of the spear.