Skip to comments.US Navy hopes to increase AIM-9X range by 60%
Posted on 07/19/2013 2:21:26 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
US Navy hopes to increase AIM-9X range by 60%
The US Navy is hoping to increase the range of the new Raytheon AIM-9X Block III by some 60% over current Sidewinder variants due to the unique needs of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) says. The new weapon is scheduled to become operational in 2022.
"The Block III range requirement was in response to Joint Strike Fighter requirements in the 2020+ timeframe," NAVAIR says. "The design is anticipated to increase AIM-9X employment ranges by 60%."
NAVAIR says the current Block II AIM-9X already overlaps some of the range capability of the more powerful Raytheon AIM-120D AMRAAM, however the new Block III variant will increase that overlap. The AIM-9X Block III's increased range will "provide fighter aircraft with increased capacity of BVR [beyond visual range] weapons for tactical flexibility," NAVAIR says.
The need for that added flexibility arises from the proliferation of advanced digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jammers that many potential adversaries are adding to their fighter fleets. DRFM jammers have the potential to blind the AMRAAM's onboard radar, which makes the AIM-9X's passive imaging infra-red guidance system a useful alternative means to defeat those threats. While a completely new missile would have been ideal, the Pentagon is faced with era of declining budgets and has to take into account the price tag of any new weapon.
"Programme affordability was a primary concern for new missile development," NAVAIR says. "Modifying the existing AIM-9X for increased range provides a highly affordable solution for meeting the performance requirement."
To create the new AIM-9X Block III, the NAVAIR will primarily focus on the missile's rocket motor. "Increased range will be achieved through a combination of increased rocket motor performance and missile power management," NAVAIR says.
In addition to an improved, more energetic, rocket motor, the enhanced weapon will also have a new insensitive munitions warhead, which will be safer to use onboard an aircraft carrier. However, the Block III will "leverage" the current Block II's guidance unit and electronics-including the missile's AMRAAM-derived datalink.
While the Pentagon needs the new Sidewinder to be a supplemental BVR weapon for situations where friendly fighters are faced with electronic attacks that degrade with radar-guided weapons, it will not compromise on the AIM-9X's close in performance. "The requirement and design call for the same WVR [within visual range]/HOBS [high off-boresight] capabilities as those found in the AIM-9X Block II," NAVAIR says.
The Block III is currently scheduled to enter into its engineering and manufacturing development phase in 2016, NAVAIR says. Subsequently, it will go into developmental testing in 2018 with operational tests starting in 2020. If all goes well, an initial operational capability date is expected in 2022. "The Block III development schedule follows the increased number of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft entering service," NAVAIR says.
Why? The Navy and USAF very rarely use BVR missiles because of the stupid ROEs they have to operate under. Seems to me that this is more pre-Vietnam War type thinking in which missiles were supposed to be the be-all/end-all for aerial combat.
Block III extended range is for use/deterrence in general war, which we’d better always be prepared for, even if smaller dustups are constrained to VID ROEs.
Sidewinder missile rocket motors are small. A new propellant - and are throttleable or rocket nozzle control? Or an improvement on the thermal battery that the old AIM-9s used to increase life span?
The visual ROEs will go away in future scenarios where we’re heavily outnumbered, which is what this missile is being purchased for.
BVR never made sense when 99% of the aircraft in the air at any given time were American, like Vietnam, the Gulf War, etc.
Do you think the US would build (modify) something like the proposal for the B-1R “missile truck”?
Apparently would only work with F22s right now
From what I’ve read, every major upgrade to the Sidewinder has come in ahead of schedule and under projected budget, without compromising effectiveness. Really a pretty neat example of “Getting It Right.”
If this missile works as advertised the enemies fighters will be destroyed before the pilot knows what hit him.
The military is very skittish with beyond visual range missile attacks since the USS Vincense shot down an Iranian airliner many years ago.
I’m certain that is still in back of their minds.
There, sitting on two pipe stands, was a missile. There was a "goldfish bowl" lens at the front. My dad told me to go stand at the rear and watch the fins while he went to the front and waved his cigarette around about 5 feet in front of the lens. I watched in amazement as the fins moved following his cigarette and he explained to me what was happening.
It looked like this photo, on the same type of stands (w/round pipe), except the fuselage was the same diameter for the full length and the lens was the diameter of the fuselage.
This was in about 1953 or maybe 1954.
Several European Air Forces switched to IRIS-T.
This missile offers something quite useful for F-35: “it can also engage targets behind the launching aircraft”.
Someone once said way back that I was full of crap saying that future development of DRFM jammers, and general ECM development, would make certain types of BVR shots ineffective. This was a couple years back when the USAF faced off against the Indian airforce, and while the big story was the performance of the SU-30 the real story should have been the performance of the Indian MiG-21s coupled with Israeli jammers. Those modernized Fishbeds were said to be difficult to 'kill' before they got to WVR range, and at/near the merge even an obsolete plane with a good WVR IIR missile can kill the most advanced plane. Yet I was allegedly full of crap.
Well, it seems it wasn't that crappy after all.
Reach out and touch someone. You need to be able to shoot as far as your search radar can see. Time spent getting in range is time spent being predictable.
A 60% increase in range would raise it to about 35 miles.
It seems to me that at 188 pounds, a drone launched from a ship could carry several.
Interesting how the F-22 hangs tough on external goodies so as to remain stealthy but the F-35 has more afterthought and unstealthy crap hanging off it than a deer’s tick infested head.
So much for a do-all 4/5th generation fighter.
That weight figure (for a baseline Sidewinder) is bound to go up with the planned enhancements-new motor, warhead etc.