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The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short range air-to-air IR-tracking ("heat-seeking") missile developed by Raytheon Systems. It entered service with the US Navy in 1956 and subsequently was adopted by the US Air Force in 1964. It was the world's first missile of its kind, and has since seen widespread adoption.


The Sidewinder missile was first developed in the 1950s, and the first operational version was the

AIM-9 Sidewinder

AIM-9A. Which became operational in 1956 and experienced in combat in 1958.

The missile has undergone several modifications and upgrades and is still in active service in their latest versions as the M version, or the very latest version of AIM-9X.

The AIM-9F version is an adaptation and modernization of the European AIM-9B Sidewinder and many European countries are still using this version. It was also adapted for use in defense systems fired anti-aircraft from ground vehicles. When in 1958 a Sidewinder missile fell into Soviet hands, it served as a model for the manufacture of a Soviet version of the system, which resulted in K-13 (NATO reporting name AA-2 Atoll).

The development of Soviet versions, joined the development of Chinese versions (such as PL-2 and PL-5)



The AIM-9A are the first prototypes of the AIM-9 Sidewinder and first flew in 1953. The first production version was the "B", which entered service in 1956. These versions had a limited effect, because the missile could not be used at night, nor was it able to identify targets near the ground. Its infrared sensor, which had to detect a strong presence of heat, could only be fired from behind an enemy plane. It was equipped with a Thiokol Mk.17 solid fuel engine.


This version of the Sidewinder is characterized by no longer having circuits with vacuum tubes (that were abandoned in the G version - which is an improved version of D). From the G model, the Sidewinder had the ability to engage off-boresight targets, i.e. targets that were not directly ahead of the launching platform. The version 9G/H offers electronic components and semiconductors missile has an opening for screening target of 20 degrees.


This version of the Sidewinder, introduced in 1976 is characterized by having a more powerful solid fuel engine, the Bermite Mk.36, as well as several improvements that increase the maneuverability of the missile. The AIM-9L was the first all-aspect model. The resistance to countermeasures has also increased, because in 1976, there were means capable of fooling the older versions of Sidewinder.


Introduced in 1978, the AIM-9P Sidewinder, characterized by being very maneuverable, and have greater range. As a result of the explosive is less. The P version is a derivative of "J" version and shares the characteristics of the versions 'E', 'J' and 'N'. This sub Sidewinder family is regarded as an export version, with lower capacity than the trend line 9H/9L/9M/9X. The AIM-9P is cheaper than its contemporary class AIM-9M, although slightly less sophisticated and it is also used by U.S. Air Force and the U.S Air National Guard of the several American states.


AIM-9M on an A-10 Warthog

Introduced in 1983 as an improvement of the L model, the AIM-9M version is an upgrade version of the AIM-9L and is characterized by being more resistant to countermeasures, increasing the missile's ability to identify sources of heat.

It has also increased the ability to identify a target at low altitude, identifying the target against infrared clutter. The AIM-9M was attributed to the killing of 13 Iraqi aircraft during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.


The latest version of the Sidewinder missile is one with characteristics that increase their lethality, and should be used in most U.S. aircraft. Continues to treat yourself to a short-range missile, but will have far greater capabilities in relation to the capacity to identify sources of heat by, for instance to identify the silhouette of the aircraft target and avoid other sources of heat. The electronic devices that enable the AIM-9X to identify targets, even in the presence of many alternative sources of heat and / or decoys greatly increase the likelihood of achieving the target in respect of any previous missile AIM-9 family. Besides these advantages, the new engine Hercules-Bermite Mk.36, can raise the maximum range to nearly double, turning the AIM-9X missile from a NBVR (Near Beyond Visual Range). The AIM-9X could be configured into a NCADE weapon or a submarine launched missile.



  • Main Function: Air-to-air missile
  • Seeker: Infrared ("Heat-seeking")
  • Range: 10 nmi (18 km)
  • Diameter: 130 mm
  • Speed: mach 2.5+
  • Length: 3.02 m
  • Weight: 85.5 kg

See also

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