Raytheon (RTN) has been given the green light to begin full-rate production of the AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II infrared air-to-air missile, the company said Thursday. The program completed operational test and evaluation earlier this year and Raytheon is now approved to produce missiles at full factory capacity.
The Block II configuration makes the AIM-9X a dual-use missile, capable of air-to-air and surface-to-air applications with no modification, Raytheon said.
“We’ve proven the increased capabilities of the AIM-9X Block II, and are confident Raytheon can produce missiles at full rate,” Navy Program Manager Capt. Jim Stoneman, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to getting them into the hands of our warfighters as quickly as possible.”
The Navy ran point on the AIM-9X program, but the Air Force, and several overseas allies have purchased the Block II version of the missile. AIM-9X currently has 18 international customers, nine original Block I customers followed by nine new and five repeat Block II customers.
The Block-1 version entered service in 2003 with international deliveries beginning in 2005. Block II development began in 2011, completed operational test and evaluation earlier this year and reach initial operational capability in March.
“An updated electronics package gives the missile features significant enhancements, like the ability to lock on after launch using a new datalink that supports beyond-visual-range engagements,” said Mike Jarrett, Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice president. “Sidewinder remains the warfighter’s weapon of choice for short-range air-to-air missiles.”