10 Facts About AIM-9 Sidewinder


AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile which entered service with the US Navy in 1956 and subsequently was adopted by the US Air Force in 1964.

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Since then the AIM-9 Sidewinder has proved to be an enduring international success, and its latest variants remain standard equipment in most Western-aligned air forces.

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The AIM-9 Sidewinder is one of the oldest, lowest cost, and most successful air-to-air missiles, with an estimated 270 aircraft kills in its history of use.

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AIM-9 Sidewinder is not guided by the actual position recorded by the detector, but by the change in position since the last sighting.

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Development of the Sidewinder missile began in 1946 at the Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, California, now the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, as an in-house research project conceived by William B McLean.

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The name AIM-9 Sidewinder was selected in 1950 and is the common name of Crotalus cerastes, a venomous rattlesnake, which uses infrared sensory organs to hunt warm-blooded prey.

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Soviet engineers later said that the captured AIM-9 Sidewinder served as a "university course" in missile design and substantially improved Soviet air-to-air capabilities.

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The AIM-9X entered service in November 2003 with the USAF and the USN and is a substantial upgrade to the Sidewinder family featuring an imaging infrared focal-plane array seeker with claimed 90° off-boresight capability, compatibility with helmet-mounted displays such as the new U S Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, and a totally new two-axis thrust-vectoring control system providing increased turn capability over traditional control surfaces .

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The need for the AIM-9 to have an increased range was caused by digital radio frequency memory jammers that can blind the onboard radar of an AIM-120D AMRAAM, so the Sidewinder Block III's passive imaging infrared homing guidance system was seen as a useful alternative.

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On 28 February 2018, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps unveiled an anti-tank derivative of the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile named "Azarakhsh" intended for use by Bell AH-1J SeaCobra attack helicopters.

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