September 28, 2000 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range, air-to-air missile, under development by Raytheon, has been approved by the Department of Defense for low rate initial production (LRIP). This key decision was formalized Sept. 22 when Dr. Jacques S. Gansler, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, signed the AIM-9X LRIP Acquisition Decision Memorandum.
Performance, reliability, price projections and manufacturing processes were the key criteria for this decision.
The first production buy will be for 143 missiles. The initial aircraft to deploy the missile will be the F-15C and the F/A-18C/D.
The Department of Defense plans to procure 10, 097 missiles (5097 for the Air Force, 5000 for the Navy) during an 18-year production run.
AIM-9X is being developed to provide offensive and defensive air superiority for U.S. and allied forces. The missile is the next generation of the combat-proven Sidewinder series missiles that have provided dogfight superiority for over 45 years. It incorporates a high off-boresight staring focal plane array seeker as well as thrust vector control for extreme agility in all aerial combat environments.
The Navy and Air Force will integrate and deploy AIM-9X on the F/A-18E/F, F-16 and F-22. Additionally, consistent with the Air Expeditionary Force structure, the Air National Guard and Air Force reserve will operate with AIM-9X.
The AIM-9X flight test program has launched 13 separation and control test vehicles and 10 guided shots in the last 18 months. This aggressive flight test effort was designed to further prove the capabilities of the missile airframe as well as guidance system maturity. The missile's reliability has been proven in extensive captive carry testing. The E&MD phase will continue through the end of 2002 culminating in the final operational test phase (OT-IIB) and a milestone review for full rate production approval.