Edwards Test Team Fires F-16's First AIM-9X Sidewinder
Edwards Test Team Fires F-16's First AIM-9X
Leigh Anne Bierstine, 416th Flight Test Squadron.
Edwards Air Force Base, California --
(AFPN) April 16, 2004 -- A test team from the
Global Power Fighters Combined Test Force fired the newest variant of the AIM-9
Sidewinder, the X variant, for the first time from an F-16 Fighting Falcon here
Edwards AFB, California -- A pilot from the 416th Flight Test
Squadron successfully fires the newest variant of the AIM-9 Sidewinder for the
first time from an F-16 Fighting Falcon on April 9. U.S. Air Force photo by Tom
Force photo by Tom Reynolds
The Sidewinder is a supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile carried by
fighter aircraft. Before this, the AIM-9X had been fired only from F-15 Eagles
and U.S. Navy F-18 Hornets.
The test mission is part of the F-16 M4-plus test project currently going on
here. The project tests an improved avionics system that will be used to upgrade
about 600 active-duty F-16 aircraft.
This was the first firing in a series of tests designed to clear the new variant
for use on the F-16, said Capt. Chad Hale, 416th Flight Test Squadron operations
engineer for the project. The initial flights are designed to validate the
effects predicted by its contracted developer.
The team's first two firings are unguided, and the flight profiles will build up
to three guided firings against subscale drones, Captain Hale said.
In its first test, after clearing the aircraft, the missile was programmed to
perform a high-G dive into the ground. Maj. Ray Toth, 416th FLTS test pilot,
fired the new Sidewinder.
"The test went as planned, and there were no surprises," said Major Toth, who
fired the missile over a test range at nearby China Lake Naval Air Weapons
The team also evaluated how the new Sidewinder variant works with the Joint
Helmet Mounted Cueing System. It is compatible with the system, which is
designed to acquire targets easier and decrease aircrew workload.
Results of the tests will have big payoffs for combat pilots, said Maj. Monte
Cannon, a project pilot and 416th FLTS F-16 chase pilot for the mission.
"The AIM-9X test marks a tremendous increase in combat capability for the F-16,"
Major Cannon said. "Together, the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System and the
missile will provide a lethal combination for pilots who find themselves in
The latest variant has the same rocket motor and warhead as the AIM-9M, which is
the most current operational variant of the missile. However, the AIM-9X has
major changes from previous versions including increased flight performance.
The Sidewinder was originally developed by the Navy for fleet air defense and
was later adapted by the Air Force for use on fighter aircraft. Early versions
of the missile were used in the Vietnam War.