The US State department has approved the sale of the Raytheon AIM-9X infra-red air-to-air missile to Australia.
The request submitted by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and valued at $US534m (A$568m) is for “up to” 350 AIM-9X missiles, and also includes training and captive missiles, tactical guidance units, test sets and support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documents, personnel training and training equipment, and US government support and admin.
The Block II builds on the AIM-9X’s within visual range (WVR) high-off-bore-sight (HOBS) lethality and adds new software and a datalink so that it can steered by the launch aircraft towards a target that its own seeker cannot initially see. Called lock-on after launch, the improved seeker has a re-acquisition capability which makes the missile harder to evade, and will allow the Block II to be loft-launched at altitude before it sees its target, allowing it to fly much further.
The RAAF operates the AIM-9X on its F/A-18F Super Hornet fleet, and to date has only fielded the Block I version of the AIM-9X, while the RAAF’s classic Hornets operate with the MBDA AIM-132 ASRAAM missile. The Block IIs are being acquired under Project AIR 5349 Phase 2 which is the weapons phase of the ADF’s Super Hornet program.