The AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided air-to-air missile could be used to attack surface targets. The company demonstrated this capability in a field test conducted on Sept. 23, 2009 as the AIM-9X fired from a U.S. Air Force F-16C fighter sank a rapidly moving target boat in the Gulf of Mexico. In similar demonstrations performed in April 2008 and March 2007, AIM-9X missiles were used against a maneuvering boats and an armored personnel carrier.
Unlike previous generations of the Sidewinder, that used highly sensitive infrared seekers to home in on the target’s hot spots, the AIM-9X uses an infrared focal plane array providing the missile a clear image of the target. This image can be used to acquire, designate, track and guide the missile with high precision. “AIM-9X now has the potential to take on an additional mission at a very affordable cost” Says Harry Schulte, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of Air Warfare Systems, adding that modifying the missile for the new mission requires only software changes, which could be performed as part of the missile’s routine maintenance.