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F-16 Fighting Falcon News

F-16 test team conducts first guided launch of AIM-9X

July 19, 2004 (by Leigh Anne Bierstine) - A test team from the Global Power Fighters Combined Test Force at Edwards AFB (California) moved a step closer to demonstrating the full combat capability of the newest variant of the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile on the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

F-16C block 42 #88445 from the 416th Flight Test Squadron flies near China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center, Calif., July 8 during a successful AIM-9X test. The Global Power Fighters Combined Test Force here fired the AIM-9X, marking the variant's first guided launch from the aircraft. [USAF photo by Tom Reynolds ]

Maj. Bill Peris, a 416th Flight Test Squadron test pilot, fired the AIM-9X from an F-16 recently, successfully acquiring and scoring a kill against a Navy subscale drone. This was the third time the AIM-9X was fired from an F-16, marking the variant's first guided launch from the aircraft.

During the test mission, Major Peris was flying at medium altitude in an operationally representative engagement. A C-130 Hercules crew, taking off from Naval Air Weapons Station Point Mugu, Calif., released the target drone over a test range at nearby China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center, Calif., where the test mission took place.

The AIM-9X Sidewinder is a supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile carried by Air Force and Navy fighter aircraft. It provides increased launch capability using the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System that allows pilots to acquire and track targets well beyond their line of sight, and engage targets not possible with previous AIM-9 variants.

Major Peris found the drone and tracked it using the cueing system, which also is being tested here to integrate it with the AIM-9X.

The missile performed as anticipated and proved its combat effectiveness, he said.

"The addition of the AIM-9X to the F-16 arsenal creates a lethal combination that will make it more than a match for any adversary," Major Peris said. "The aircraft has always excelled in the visual arena, and with this weapon, it will be untouchable."

The third shot is part of a series of tests designed to clear the AIM-9X for operational use on the F-16. The AIM-9X missions are part of the F-16 M4+ software update test project ongoing at Edwards. M4+ is an improved avionics system that will be used in upgrading about 600 F-16 aircraft.

Courtesy of 416th Flight Test Squadron - Air Force Link.