Improved AIM-9X Achieves IOC

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Naval Air Systems Command announced that the improved AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missile achieved initial operational capability (IOC) March 31 after completion of a successful live-fire test program.

Capt. James Stoneman, program manager of PMA-259, the air-to-air missile office, revealed the Block II IOC in an April 13 briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space exposition. He said a decision on full-rate production of the Block II was expected this summer.

The Block II is the latest version of the Sidewinder, a relatively short-range heat-seeking missile that was developed by the Navy in the 1950s. The new model has improved ability to overcome infrared countermeasures, Stoneman said. It is certified for use by Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18s and the Air Force’s F-16, F-15s, F-22 and F-35.

The legacy AIM-9Xs, produced by Raytheon, are in use by 32 friendly foreign nations, in addition to U.S. forces, and at least 12 nations have indicated interest in the new model, Stoneman said.

Stoneman’s office also is responsible for sustainment of the legacy Sidewinders and the AIM-7 Sparrow, which is no longer used by U.S. forces. He also is working with the Army on the Integrated Fire Protection Capability, which seeks to use the AIM-9X in a ground-launched mode.

The Navy and Marine Corps also use the AIM-120 AMRAAM, a long-range active-seeking missile that is managed by the Air Force.

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