May 13, 2015
F-22 Fires First Guided AIM-9X Sidewinder
USAF test pilots fired two guided AIM-9X missiles earlier this year, but the event was not revealed until now. The first shot was taken on 26 February and the missile successfully shot down a BQM-34 drone.
The second guided firing was conducted on 29 April and targeted a BQM-74 drone. The second shot was done in a much more stressing flight regime.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a USD33.4 million contract in October 2014 to modify the Raptor to carry the AIM-9X. The contract provided for the upgrade of 220 AIM-9 Configurable Rail Launchers (CRLs) to be compatible with the AIM-9X.
The AIM-9X has the same rocket motor and warhead as previous versions of the missile, but its guidance section features an imaging infrared seeker. Unlike older variants of the missile, it includes fixed forward canards and smaller fins. Operational F-22s currently carry the AIM-9M.
The AIM-9X is already in service with several of the USAF's combat aircraft, including the F-15C Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, F/A-18A+ Hornet, F/A-18C/D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and F-16. Integration work on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is also in progress.