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Library > Fact Sheets > "Sidewinder" Air-to-Air Missile


Posted 10/1/2007 Printable Fact Sheet
Raytheon Sidewinder
Raytheon AIM-9 "Sidewinder" Air-to-Air Missile
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Raytheon AIM-9 "Sidewinder" Air-to-Air Missile

Propulsion:  Hercules and Bernite Mk 36 Mod 71, 8 solid propellant rocket motor
Wingspan:   2 ft 3/4 in
Length:   9 ft 5 in
Weight:   190 lbs
Speed:   Mach 2
Range:   1-2 miles
Armament:   Annular blast fragmentation warhead
Cost:   $84,000

Originally developed by the U.S. Navy, the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile was adapted by the US Air Force for use on its fighters. The AIM-9 was a cylindrical, heat-seeking missile with a high-explosive warhead that was able to fly at supersonic speeds. The Sidewinder was equipped with a roll-stabilizing rear wing/rolleron assembly and detachable double delta control surfaces located aft of the nose that increased the maneuverability. 

The missile was basically made up of the rocket motor, infrared homing guidance section, high explosive warhead, and active optical target detector. With the help of the infrared guidance section the missile was able to zero in on an aircraft's engine exhaust. The pilot did not have to stay in the area after launching the Sidewinder but could leave while the AIM-9 sought its target. The AIM-9 was used extensively during the war in Southeast Asia.

Built by Raytheon, the first prototype was the AIM-9A, which was first fired successfully in September 1953. The first production version, the AIM-9B, became operational in July 1956 under the designation GAR-8, and was limited to close range targets. The AIM-9B could not be utilized at night, on targets near the ground, or in a head-on attack. At the end of production in 1962 more that 60,000 AIM-9Bs had been manufactured.

The OO-ALC Directorate of Maintenance, under its specialized repair responsibilities, was involved in the repair of the first production modified guidance and control section of an AIM-9J-1 Sidewinder. This repair was completed in February 1978 and the first missile was turned over to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing stationed at Hill AFB. In 1985 Ogden received the repair responsibility for the AIM-9M Sidewinder. OOALC was also awarded a $10 million contract for installation of guidance and control modification kits on AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles in July 1993.

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