AIM-9X Block II Short-range air-to-air missile
AIM-9X Block II Short-range air-to-air missile

US Approves $117 Million Sale of AIM-9X Sidewinder to Royal Netherlands Air Force

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the Netherlands of AIM-9X Block II Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $117 million. The Government of the Netherlands has requested to buy seventy-two (72) AIM-9X Block II Tactical Missiles; and forty-three (43) AIM-9X Block II+ Tactical Missiles that will be added to a previously implemented case. The original FMS case, valued at $16.8 million, included twenty-three (23) AIM-9X Block II Tactical Missiles. The Netherlands has also requested a new FMS case for twenty-two (22) AIM-9X Block II Tactical Missiles; forty-three (43) AIM-9X Block II+ Tactical Missiles; and one (1) AIM-9X Block II+ Tactical Guidance Unit.

The proposed sale will enable the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) to provide stronger support for the Netherlands’ air defense needs. This proposed sale of AIM-9X missiles will improve the RNAF’s capability to conduct self-defense and regional security missions, enhancing interoperability with the U.S. and other NATO members. The Netherlands will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces. The Royal Netherlands Air Forcecould soon sign a contract for AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles, now that it has received the greenlight from the Biden administration. The principal contractor of this FMS will be Raytheon Missiles and Defence, Tucson, Arizona, US.

A F-16 Fighting Falcon flies near China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center during a successful AIM-9X Block II short-range air-to-air missile test.(Photo by U.S. Air Force)

The AIM-9 Sidewinder (where “AIM” stands for “Air Intercept Missile”) is a short-range air-to-air missile which entered service with the US Navy in 1956 and subsequently was adopted by the US Air Force in 1964. Since then the Sidewinder has proved to be an enduring international success, and its latest variants remain standard equipment in most western-aligned air forces. The Sidewinder is the most widely used air-to-air missile in the West, with more than 110,000 missiles produced for the U.S. and 27 other nations, of which perhaps one percent have been used in combat. The AIM-9 is one of the oldest, lowest cost, and most successful air-to-air missiles, with an estimated 270 aircraft kills in its history of use. When firing a Sidewinder, NATO pilots use the brevity code FOX-2.

The AIM-9X entered service in November 2003 with the USAF (lead platform is the F-15C) and the USN (lead platform is the F/A-18C) and is a substantial upgrade to the Sidewinder family featuring an imaging infrared focal-plane array (FPA) seeker with claimed 90° off-boresight capability, compatibility with helmet-mounted displays such as the new U.S. Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, and a totally new two axis thrust-vectoring control (TVC) system providing increased turn capability over traditional control surfaces (60Gs). The Block II adds Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, so the missile can be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards by an aircraft with the proper equipment for 360 degree engagements, such as the F-35 and F-22.[