The US Army has successfully test-fired the Raytheon-built AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missile from its ground-based indirect fire protection capability increment 2-I (IFPC 2-I) Block 1 multi-mission launcher (MML).
Conducted in collaboration with Raytheon, the test demonstrated that the latest AIM-9X can be used in both air-to-air combat and now in ground-based air defence without modification. The missile is traditionally fired from aircraft toward aerial targets.
During the trial, the missile first locked onto an unmanned aerial system (UAS) before launch, and subsequently intercepted and destroyed the UAS, which was flying 1,500m above ground level.
Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice-president Mike Jarrett said: "This is another example of how Raytheon is leveraging its proven portfolio of products to fulfil gaps in other mission areas, such as ground-based air defence.
"AIM-9X can perform well against fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial systems or cruise missiles and retain the ‘first look, first shot, first kill’ reputation – in the air and from the ground."
The launch also demonstrated the surface launch performance of the AIM-9X Block II missile against a UAS, while validating the operation and design of the army’s prototype IFPC multi-mission launcher.
The AIM 9X Block II Sidewinder is an upgraded version of Raytheon’s AIM-9X Block I infrared-guided missile, featuring a lock-on-after-launch capability, re-designed fuse and a one-way forward-quarter datalink capability that enhances ground-handling and in-flight safety.
While AIM-9X was a US Navy-led, joint navy and US Air Force programme, Block II will also serve as the baseline effector for the Army Indirect Fires Protection Capability Increment 2.
Development of Block II started in 2011 and operational test and evaluation was completed earlier this year.
The AIM-9X missile is currently used by 18 international customers, which include nine original Block I customers followed by nine new and five repeat Block II customers.
Image: The AIM 9X Block II Sidewinder is an upgraded version of Raytheon’s AIM-9X Block I infrared-guided missile. Photo: courtesy of TSgt. Michael Ammons, USAF.