The U.S. Navy recently completed two successful live fire tests of the Raytheon AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder air/air missile. Following the recent approval for Raytheon to enter low rate initial production, AIM-9X Block II is now scheduled to enter operational testing in spring 2012.

The recent tests were conducted by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif. The mission was part of a developmental testing of the missile that began in September 2010. AIM-9X Block II missiles have already performed several test firings at Eglin Air Force base in November 2009, but development have stalled for two years due to technical problems, part of which was attributed to technical problems with the weapon’s laser proximity fuse.

Navy F-18D performed two successful test firings of the AIM-9X Block II, the latest version of the Sidewinder, enhanced with Lock on After Launch capability. Photo: Raytheon

The Navy team conducted the two developmental tests on Aug.31 and Sept.1 to demonstrate Block II’s ability to deliver expanded air-to-air warfare capabilities. During both missions, an F/A-18D fired one telemetry-equipped missile against a BQM-74 sub-scale target, testing the new model’s improved lock-on-after-launch capability employing the new data link, extended range lofting fly-out profile and improved all weather DSU-41 laser fusing, optimized against small targets. The first mission tested the weapon’s ability to fire against an extremely small target flying at low altitudes over the California desert at an extended beyond visual range. The second mission demonstrated Block II’s all-weather capability when the test pilot, flying below the 1,000 feet marine layer of clouds off the Point Mugu, Calif. coast, shot at a target flying above the clouds. The second test employed a new, high precision telemetry system accurately profiling the endgame profile and target engagement.

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