Raytheon Co. recently teamed with the U.S. Air Force and Navy on test firing three AIM-9X Block I (“Sidewinder”) missiles from an F-35A aircraft, the first short-range, air-to-air missile to be used on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. These tests demonstrated the effectiveness of numerous functions required for successful missile deployment, including loading, target acquisition by the aircraft, missile target acquisition and tracking, launch initiation, in-flight guidance, and impact/proximity fusing at the interception of the target.
“These tests validated the on-board communications and handoffs between the aircraft and the missile required to prosecute an aerial target,” says Mark Justus, AIM-9X program director for Raytheon Missile Systems. “AIM-9X will help ensure our pilots and allies have the most reliable and effective weapons on the F-35.” A fourth guided missile test of the AIM-9X Block I missiles is expected later this year.
An F-35 can carry two AIM-9X missiles on its wings, and four AIM-120 missiles internally, when properly configured. These test firings were intended to ensure integration of the advanced missile systems with their introduction across the F-35 fleet expected in 2017.