AIM-9X Sidewinder

Product Type:

Short Range Air-to-Air Missile

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF) and Navy

Program Status:

Full Rate Production (AIM-9X Block II)

Prime Contractor:

Raytheon Company

The AIM-9X Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missile

About the AIM-9X Sidewinder:

The Raytheon Air Intercept Missile-9X (AIM-9X) is the latest addition to the Sidewinder Family of short-range air-to-air missiles, the most widely used air-to-air missile - currently in service with more than 40 countries.

The first Sidewinder missile was developed in the 1950s. The AIM-9A prototype was fired successfully for the first time in September 1953. The initial production version, designated AIM-9B, entered operational use in 1956. The AIM-9B was effective only at close range.

The AIM-9X is the fifth generation Sidewinder and is now in production. The AIM-9X features a high off-boresight focal-plane array seeker mounted on a highly maneuverable airframe with a greatly improved infrared anti-countermeasures capability.

The AIM-9X provides a launch-and-leave air combat missile capability, which uses passive infrared energy for acquisition and tracking of enemy aircraft. It is a joint U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force program (led by the Navy). The AIM-9X achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in November 2003 and full rate production was approved in May 2004. The AIM-9X is equipped with a conventional WDU-17/B blast fragmentation warhead and the Mk 139 Sidewinder single-thrust propulsion system manufactured by Orbital ATK. Complemented by the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), the AIM-9X provides offensive firepower - unmatched by any other weapon system in the world. The AIM-9X is compatible with the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS).

The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy are currently purchasing the AIM-9X Block II, which (compared to the Block I missile) adds a lock-on-after launch capability and a one-way forward quarter datalink capability. Block II is on track to complete operational testing. The missile is expected to be cleared for U.S. Navy / Air Force employment in early 2014.

Raytheon is designing and developing the AIM-9X Block III missile, which will employ several components common with the Block II (advanced seeker, advanced optical target detector / datalink). Most notably, the Block III missile will feature a new warhead (PBXN-112) and a new rocket motor. The Navy is hoping to increase the range of the AIM-9X Block III by 60% over current variants. The Block III missile will begin developmental testing in late 2014. Initial operational capability is expected by 2022.

As of June 2013, Raytheon has delivered 5,000 AIM-9X missiles to the U.S. military and nine international customers.

Differences Between the AIM-9X and AIM-9M

The AIM-9X retains several components from the previous Sidewinder generation, the AIM-9M (fuse, rocket motor, and warhead), but incorporates a new airframe with much smaller fins and canards, and relies in a jet-vane steering system for significantly enhanced agility. The new guidance unit incorporates an advanced Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker.


The AIM-9X Sidewinder is currently fielded on Navy F/A-18C/D Hornet and U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft. It will be integrated on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. Also, the AIM-9X will be carried by the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) and the Air Force F-22 Raptor.

Price/Unit Cost:

The unit cost of an AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II missile is $420,944 per All-Up Round (in FY 2015).

Total Cost - Life of Program (LoP):

The total procurement cost of the AIM-9X Block II program is $3.67 billion (estimated by the DoD) + $0.38 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $4.05 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made).


The mission of the AIM-9X is to destroy low and high altitude, high-speed enemy targets in an electronic countermeasures environment.

FY 2015 DoD Program:

Begins AIM-9X Block II Full Rate Production (FRP) as well as product improvements, such as data link capabilities, and battery and safety improvements. FY 15 provides funding to procure the 1st lot of FRP AIM-9X Block II missiles. FY 15 will purchase 470 AIM-9X Block II missiles - 303 for the Air Force and 167 for the Navy. Procurement funds in the amount of $211.0 million have been provided for the Sidewinder Program. FY 15 also provides $67.0 million for RDT&E.

FY 2016 DoD Program:

FY 16 continues AIM-9X Block II Full Rate Production (FRP) and provides funding to procure the 2nd lot of missiles. FY 16 will purchase 733 AIM-9X Block II missiles - 506 for the Air Force and 227 for the Navy. Procurement funds in the amount of $310.0 million have been provided for the Sidewinder Program. FY 16 also provides $119.4 million for RDT&E.

For more information, click to see the FY 2016 USAF AIM-9X Procurement Budget and the FY 2016 Navy AIM-9X Procurement Budget.

Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Raytheon Co., and Orbital ATK.

Specifications Platforms DoD Spending FY2016 Budget

Last Update: June 5, 2015.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (

External Resources:

Raytheon: AIM-9X Sidewinder

Orbital ATK: ATK Mk 36 Sidewinder Rocket Motor

YouTube: AIM-9 Sidewinder Videos | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: AIM-9X Sidewinder

Total AIM-9X Block II Program Cost:

 $4.05 billion  ($3.67B procurement + $0.38B RDT&E)

AIM-9X Block II Procurement Objective:

  6,000 missiles  (USAF: 3,352 / NAVY: 2,648)

AIM-9X U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
DoD Purchases of AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2012/13/14 + Budget for FYs 2015 + 2016

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the AIM-9X Sidewinder

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of AIM-9X Missiles (USAF) Purchases of AIM-9X Missiles (NAVY)
RDT&E: Tactical AIM Missiles (USAF) RDT&E: Tactical AIM Missiles (NAVY)

Missile Specifications: AIM-9X Sidewinder

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Primary Function: Short range air-to-air missile
Prime Contractor: Raytheon Co.
Propulsion: Orbital ATK Mk 139 Sidewinder single-thrust propulsion system
Length: 119 in (3.02 m)
Diameter: 5 in (12.7 cm)
Wingspan: 13.9 in (0.63 m)
Weight: 188 lbs (85.28 kg)
Speed: Supersonic
Range: Classified
Guidance System: Passive infrared
Seeker: High Off-Boresight Seeker (HOBS)
Warhead: WDU-17/B Annular blast fragmentation (conventional) weighing 20.8 lbs (9.36 kg)
Platforms: F/A-18C/D Hornet and F-15 Eagle; to be integrated on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet;
F-15E Strike Eagle; F-16 Fighting Falcon; F-22 Raptor; and F-35 Lightning II.
Price/Unit Cost: $420,944 per All-Up Round (in FY 2015)
Deployed: November 2003

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