Australia has ordered 49 Raytheon AIM-9X Block II+ infra-red air-to-air missiles (AAMs) as part of a larger foreign military sales (FMS) block buy through the US Navy.
The total buy for 766 AIM-9X Block II and Block II+ missiles includes about 423 rounds for the US Navy and USAF, plus rounds for Israel, Norway, Qatar, South Korea, the UAE, and the Netherlands. The order announcement also adds 170 Block II captive air training missiles (CATMs), including eight for Australia, and 309 all-up round containers, including 21 for Australia.
The AIM-9X Block II and Block II+ are the latest versions of the venerable Sidewinder AIM-9 family, but share little if any resemblance to the original version which was first fielded in the late 1950s.
The AIM-9X features an imaging infrared focal-plane array (FPA) seeker and thrust vectoring vanes in the tailpipe allowing for high off-boresight ‘over-the shoulder’ shots, and improved aerodynamics and longer range compared to older versions. The Block II and II+ adds a lock-on after launch capability with a datalink.
The RAAF operates the older AIM-9M model on its BAE Hawk 127 lead-in fighter trainers, and the AIM-9X Block I and Block II on the F/A-18F and F-35A.
The RAAF’s F/A-18A/B classic Hornet used to employ the AIM-9M and is still capable of doing so, but since the mid 2000 its primary within visual range (WVR) AAM has been the MBDA AIM-132 ASRAAM.