7 April 2000
The AIM-9X Sidewinder short range air-to-air missile, under development by Raytheon Company completed its fourth guided launch by intercepting a QF-4 drone March 31 at the Naval Air Warfare Centre-Weapons Division at China Lake in California. The launch, from a US Navy F/A-18C fighter aircraft, was the fourth in a series of guided launches from F/A-18 and F-15 Eagle aircraft.
This was the first launch conducted in a dogfight scenario in the presence of defensive infrared countermeasure flares. It also was the first launch using the US Air Force and Navy Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) to point the missile seeker and acquire the target at an extremely high off-boresight angle. The one-circle air combat tactic pitted the F/A-18 Hornet against the QF-4 Phantom target in an air combat manoeuvring dogfight engagement.
"This launch is a critical step for the programme as it proceeds to a series of five operational assessment launches later this year," said Navy Capt. Dave Venlet, programme manager, Air-to-Air Missile Systems.
The AIM-9X is a joint US Navy and US Air Force programme currently in engineering and manufacturing development. It is the newest member of the AIM-9 Sidewinder short range missile family in use by more than 40 nations (it will be used by new Czech combat aircraft L-159 ALCA also).