PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy aerial warfare experts are asking Raytheon Technologies Corp. to upgrade electronics hardware and software in the U.S. AIM-9X precision short-range infrared-guided air-to-air missiles for jet fighters and other combat aircraft.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., have announced a $225.6 million five-year contract to the Raytheon Missiles and Defense segment in Tucson, Ariz., to carry out the AIM-9X Block II and Block II+ System Improvement Program Increment IV to include hardware and software development, test, and integration.
Raytheon engineers will update the AIM-9X infrared sensor, electronics unit, and guidance unit hardware, develop the missile’s operational flight software versions 10.5 and 11.5 and integrated flight software, as well as provide program protection, cyber security, information assurance, and training for the AIM-9X system.
The AIM-9X is an advanced infrared- and heat-seeking air-to-air missile for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and foreign allies. Typically the missile homes-in on the hot exhaust of enemy aircraft engines.
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The missile equips most jet fighters, fighter-bombers, and other offensive combat aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, and is for shooting down enemy aircraft close-by. Variants of the AIM-9 Sidewinder have been deployed since the 1950s.
The AIM-9X is among the latest versions of the AIM-9 missile family. It entered service in 2003 on the Navy F/A-18C Hornet fighter-bomber and on the U.S. Air Force F-15C jet fighter. It has an imaging infrared focal plane array seeker with 90-degree off-boresight capability for accuracy.
The missile is compatible with helmet-mounted displays such as the U.S. Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, and features 3-D thrust-vectoring control for increased turn capability. The AIM-9X also includes an internal cooling system.
This contract involves the latest versions of the AIM-9X, called the AIM-9X Block II and AIM-9X Block II-plus. This newest version has lock-on after launch capability for use with the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter and the F-22 Raptor advanced tactical fighter.
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The AIM-9X Block II-plus features specialized external materials to enhance aircraft survivability for the F-35. Until another version of the AIM-9X is developed that will fit inside the F-35’s enclosed weapons bay, the AIM-9X Block II-plus has stealthy coatings and structures to help reduce the missile’s radar cross-section when the F-35 carries these missiles externally.
On this contract Raytheon will do the work in Tucson, Ariz; Goleta, Calif.; Newtown, Pa.; North Logan, Utah, and at other U.S. locations, and should be finished by September 2027.