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Photo: Ordnancemen unload an Aim-9 Sidewinder missile from an F-14B

U.S. Navy Fact Sheet

AIM-9 Sidewinder Missile

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a family of short-range air-to-air missiles carried on a wide range of modern tactical aircrafts.

The Sidewinder version in the fleet in large numbers is the AIM-9M8/9. This version incorporates a low-cost quick-reaction modification of the missile’s infrared counter-countermeasures features. AIM-9X is the fifth generation Sidewinder and is now currently in production. The AIM-9X features a high off-boresight focal-plane array seeker mounted on a highly maneuverable airframe with a greatly improved infrared counter-countermeasures capability.

A prototype of the Sidewinder, the AIM-9A, was first fired successfully in September 1953. The initial production version, designated AIM-9B, entered operational use in 1956 and has been improved upon steadily since. The L model was the first Sidewinder with the ability to attack from all angles, including head-on. The AIM-9M has the all-aspect capability of the L model while providing all-around higher performance. The AIM-9M has improved defense against infrared countermeasures, enhanced background discrimination capability, and a reduced-smoke rocket motor. These modifications increase its ability to locate and lock on a target and decrease the missile's chances for detection. Deliveries began in 1983. The AIM-9M-7 was a specific modification to AIM-9M in response to threats expected in the Persian Gulf war zone. The AIM-9X reached initial operational capability in late 2003 and was approved for full-rate production in May 2004. AIM-9X provides full day/night employment, resistance to countermeasures, extremely high off-boresight acquisition and launch envelopes, greatly enhanced maneuverability and improved target acquisition ranges. The Sidewinder is the most widely used air-to-air missile currently in use by more than 40 nations throughout the world. The AIM-9 is one of the oldest, least expensive and most successful missiles in the U.S. weapons inventory.

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General Characteristics
Primary Function: Air-to-air missile.
Contractor: Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ
Date Deployed: 1956.
Propulsion: Solid-propellant rocket
Length: AIM-9M, 9.3 feet; AIM-9X, 9.9 feet
Diameter: 5 inches (.13 meters).
Wingspan: 2 feet 1 inch (0.63 meters).
Weight: 188 pounds
Speed: AIM-9M, Classified; AIM-9X, Classified (Supersonic)
Range: Classified
Guidance System: Passive infrared
Warhead: Annular blast fragmentation (conventional) weighing 20.8 pounds (9.36 kg)
Last Update: 20 February 2009