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The AIM-9X is a supersonic, air-to-air, guided missile which employs a passive IR target acquisition system, proportional navigational guidance, a closed-loop position servo Control Actuation Section (CAS), and an AOTD. The AIM-9X is launched from an aircraft after target detection to home in on IR emissions and to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft. The missile interfaces with the aircraft through the missile launcher using a forward umbilical cable, a mid-body umbilical connector and three missile hangars. The AIM-9X has three basic phases of operation: captive flight, launch, and free flight.
The AIM-9X utilizes the existing AIM-9M AOTD, warhead, and rocket motor, but incorporates a new Guidance Section (GS), new hangars, a new mid-body connector, new harness and harness cover, new titanium wings and fins, and a new CAS. The missile is propelled by the AIM-9M solid-propellant rocket motor, but uses a new Arm and Fire Device (AFD) handle design. Also, the AIM-9M rocket motor is modified to mount the CAS on its aft end. Aerodynamic lift and stability for the missile are provided by four forward-mounted , fixed titanium wings. Airframe maneuvering is accomplished by four titanium control fins mounted in line with the fixed wings and activated by the CAS, which includes a thrust vector control system that uses four jet vanes to direct the flow of the rocket motor exhaust. The AIM-9X is configured with the AIM-9M Annular Blast Fragmentation (ABF) warhead, which incorporates a new Electronic Safe and Arm Device (ESAD) to arm the warhead after launch. The AIM-9M AOTD is used to detect the presence of a target at distances out to the maximum effective range of the missile warhead and command detonation.
The AIM-9X will utilize mid-wave IR FPA seeker technology in lieu of the single-element IR seeker used in the AIM-9M. The AIM-9X will be a digital missile with Built-In-Test (BIT) and re-programming capability that is not present in the the analog AIM-9M. A buffer connector must be used on the mid-body umbilical connector when the AIM-9X is loaded on the LAU-127 launcher. The AIM-9X will use an internal cryogenic engine, called a cryoengine, for IR element cooling. The cryoengine does not require externally-supplied coolant, e.g., nitrogen, and thus does not use the nitrogen receiver assemblies contained in the LAU-7 and LAU-127 launchers, which provide IR element coolant for the AIM-9M. The AIM-9X will use titanium wings and fins. Also, the AIM-9X will use a CAS to direct movement of the aft fins and four internal jet vanes. The jet vanes direct the flow of the rocket motor exhaust to generate thrust vector control.
The AIM-9X will be integrated with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), a helmet-mounted display with capability to cue and verify cueing of high off-boresight sensors and weapons. This missile-helmet marriage will provide the aircrew with first-look, first-shot capability in the air-to-air, within visual range, combat arena. Increased off-boresight acquisition angle and improved situational awareness will be achieved through the integrated combination of the AIM-9X missile, the JHMCS and the aircraft.
The $275,000 missile is on the path to changing the face of aerial combat, according to Captain Stewart, who said he expects it to have a huge impact on warfighter tactics throughout the Air Force and other branches of service.
The Air Force is pairing the AIM-9X with the Helmet-Mounted Cueing System. The HMCS’ visor displays key data to the pilot and links the aircraft’s sensors and weapons. This combination will enable the pilot to aim and shoot the missile simply by looking in the direction of his target.
“With this combination (helmet and missile), I can look at the enemy, turn my head and cue the missile to look (at a target) and then launch,” said the Navy captain. “Pilots won’t have to use as much dog fighting and turning and maneuvering in order to put the aircraft in a lethal launch acceptability region with the missile … the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System with the AIM-9X is like a sidewinder on steroids.”
The time it takes to attack and kill an enemy aircraft will also be reduced by the HMCS/AIM-9X combination, according to Navy Cmdr. Roger Budd, AIM-9 Sidewinder office.
“So now, the pilot can attack and kill in a much shorter time period than before,” he said. “Which means the pilot is less vulnerable than before.”
The ASRAAM (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile) is a new European (mainly British) short-range air-to-air missile. It is included in this directory of U.S. missiles because it was at one time planned to replace the AIM-9 Sidewinder in U.S. service and therefore received the official DOD missile designation AIM-132.
In 1980, a joint U.S./European agreement for development of a new family of air-to-air weapons was signed. This agreement put the responsibility for the BVR (Beyond Visual Range) AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) to the United States (leading to the AIM-120), while the complementary ASRAAM "dogfight missile" would be developed in Europe. After a joint British/German/Norwegian project definition phase between 1984 and 1987, it was decided to proceed with the development of the ASRAAM. The U.S. missile designation YAIM-132A was allocated to the forthcoming ASRAAM prototypes, although the U.S. military was not satisfied with the results of the definition phase. The AIM-132 was to be developed by a joint venture of the British company BAe Dynamics and the German BGT (Bodensee Gerätetechnik). In March 1989 the design was finalized but a few months later Germany pulled out of the program because of different requirements. While the UK put emphasis on high velocity and increased range, Germany insisted on a dogfight-optimized missile with extreme manoeuverability using TVC (Thrust-Vectoring Control) (this requirement eventually led to the IRIS-T missile development program). To make things worse, the other ASRAAM partners (USA, Canada, Norway) pulled out of the program in 1990, too.
In May 1991 the UK requested proposals from the industry for a new short-range air-to-air missile. Several companies submitted their designs, and in March 1992 a development contract for the ASRAAM was finally awarded to BAe Dynamics. Firing trials of the YAIM-132A began in 1994, and in February 1998 the ASRAAM gained its first international customer, when Australia selected the missile to arm its F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. In December 1998 the first ASRAAM missiles were delivered to the RAF for systems integration.
The AIM-132 is a high-speed short-range rocket-powered missile with a low-drag configuration without any forward flying surfaces. The missile is compatible with all available target designation systems like radar, electro-optical sensors and helmet-mounted cueing sights, and its low-smoke solid-propellant rocket motor provides very high acceleration off the launch rail. Using its four cruciform tail surfaces, the ASRAAM can pull up to 50 g immediately after launch. The main improvement compared to the existing AIM-9L/M Sidewinder, however, is the new Focal Plane Array IIR (Imaging Infrared) seeker, which is similar to the one used in the American AIM-9X. This seeker has a long acquisition range, high countermeasures resistance, high off-boresight (+/- 90°) field-of-view, and the capability to designate specific parts of the targeted aircraft (like cockpit, engines, etc.). The ASRAAM also has a LOAL (Lock-On After Launch) capability which is a distinct advantage when the missile is carried in an internal weapons bay. The maximum effective range of the missile of course depends on the exact parameters (e.g. head-on or tail-chase engagement), but a figure of 15 km (8 nm) is sometimes quoted (the true figure is probably higher). Minimum range is quoted as around 300 m (1000 ft). The ASRAAM is armed with a 10 kg (22 lb) blast-fragmentation warhead, which is triggered by a combined laser proximity/impact fuzing system.
To develop and produce the ASRAAM, BAe Dynamics had formed a joint venture with the French Matra company in 1996. In 2001, this and several other European missile manufacturers were incorporated into the new company MBDA Missile Systems. While the RAF had still rejected full-scale procurement of ASRAAM in 2001 because it was not meeting performance goals in some key areas, these problems have apparently been solved, and ASRAAM was finally declared ready for operational use with the RAF in September 2002. Although there are no plans by the U.S. military to procure this missile, the official DOD designation AIM-132A has been assigned to the production ASRAAM at the request of the Royal Australian Air Force.
The AIM-9X seeks and homes in on IR energy emitted by the target. When an IR-emitting source enters the seeker field of view, an audio signal is generated by the electronics unit. The pilot hears the signal through the headset, indicating that the AIM-9X has acquired a potential target. One method of cueing the AIM-9X to the target’s IR energy source is referred to as boresight, whereby the missile is physically pointed toward the target via the pilot maneuvering the aircraft. The IR energy gathered by the missile seeker is converted to electronic signals that enable the missile to acquire and track the target up to its seeker gimbal limits.
A second method of cueing the AIM-9X to the target’s IR energy is the Sidewinder Expanded Acquisition Mode (SEAM). SEAM slaves the AIM-9X seeker to the aircraft radar. The aircraft avionics system can slave the missile seeker up to a given number of degrees from the missile/aircraft boresight axis. The missile seeker is slaved until an audible signal indicates seeker target acquisition. Upon target acquisition, a seeker interlock in the missile is released (uncaged) and the missile seeker begins tracking the target. The AIM-9X seeker will then continue to track the target.
A third method for cueing the AIM-9X to the target’s IR energy is through use of the JHMCS. This method allows the pilot to cue the AIM-9X seeker to high off-boresight targets via helmet movement. The pilot can launch the AIM-9X anytime after receipt of the appropriate audible signal.