Skip to comments.U.S. and Allies Benefiting from Spike in Air-to-Air Missile Sales
Posted on 03/28/2012 11:02:42 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
U.S. and Allies Benefiting from Spike in Air-to-Air Missile Sales
14:24 GMT, March 28, 2012 PATUXENT RIVER, Md. | Reflecting a recent report on international arms transfers, one of the Navys oldest, affordable and most successful air-to-air missiles has seen heightened interest in foreign military sales (FMS).
The AIM-9 Sidewinder, short-range, air-to-air missile, carried primarily by tactical aircraft, entered service with the Navy in the mid-1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service worldwide after six decades.
The volume of worldwide arms transfers in 2007-2011 was 24 percent higher than in 2002-2006 and the five largest arms importers in 2007-2011 were all Asian states, according to new data on international arms transfers published March 19 by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Asia and Oceania accounted for 44 percent of global arms imports, followed by Europe (19 percent), the Middle East (17 percent), the Americas (11 percent) and Africa (9 percent), the report said.
India was the world's largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10 percent of global arms imports, SPRI reported. The four next largest recipients of arms in 2007-2011 were South Korea (6 percent of arms transfers), Pakistan (5 percent), China (5 percent) and Singapore (4 percent).
The future is bright for the AIM-9X program as robust international sales lower the procurement costs for all purchasers, including the U.S. government, said Rick Cooley deputy program manager for international programs for the Navys Air-to-Air Missile program office (PMA-259) here. PMA-259 manages all AIM-9X FMS under U.S. Navy agreements or as part of munition procurements under U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft FMS agreements.
In recent years, international sales for the joint Navy and Air Force AIM-9X Sidewinder program have comprised almost half of the programs production. The Sidewinder is the most widely used air-to-air missile currently employed by more than 40 nations throughout the world.
In a surge of FMS agreements in late December 2011, Saudi Arabia and South Korea became the first international purchasers of the latest generation of the Sidewinder family, the infrared-guided AIM-9X-2 (Block II) missile system, for employment on their unique F-15 aircraft. Both countries are introducing Block II missiles into their existing AIM-9X missile inventory, promising to greatly improve the capability to counter advanced air-to-air threats.
Valued at $29.4 billion, Saudi Arabias 154 AIM-9X Block II missile procurement is part of a long-anticipated F-15SA FMS case with the U.S. Air Force. The FMS agreement with Saudi Arabia provides for production of 84 new Boeing F-15SA fighter aircraft, modernization of 70 existing aircraft, as well as munitions and other defense articles. South Korea accepted a U.S. Navy FMS case valued at $22.5 million that provides for 19 AIM-9X Block II missiles.
The U.S. Navy intends to award Raytheon Co. a contract to manufacture the missiles in March 2012 and deliver missiles to both countries in 2014. International purchasers who procure AIM-9X Block II, such as Saudi Arabia and South Korea, not only enjoy reduced unit costs from combined U.S. government/FMS buys, but field transformational warfighting capability, Cooley said.
An F-15 pilot checks an AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missile on a preflight inspection. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)
When did F-15s get a tailhook?
When they were first built in 1972.