It has a 9.36 kg warhead and some of its features are classified

AIM-9X Sidewinder: the powerful missile with which the US shot down the Chinese spy balloon

In recent days there has been a lot of talk about the Chinese spy balloon that has flown over Canada and the United States at high altitude.

A comparison of the maneuverability of the most advanced US and Russian fighters
The curious image of a USAF F-15C Eagle fighter with the White Eagle of Poland

Here we can see the video of the demolition , in which it is not clear which weapon could have been responsible for its destruction:

Last Saturday, the US Department of Defense pointed out the following: "An F-22 Raptor fighter from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fired one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile at the balloon. The balloon fell approximately six miles off the coast in about 47 feet of water. No one was hurt." So, we already have the name of the missile used: the AIM-9X Sidewinder. Let's know more about it.

An F-22 Raptor of the USAF 1st Fighter Wing, based out of Langley, Virginia. It is the unit that shot down the Chinese spy balloon (Photo: US Department of Defense).

The AIM-9X Sidewinder is the latest version of a long-standing family of short-range air-to-air missiles. The first prototype of the Sidewinder, the AIM-9A, was first successfully fired in September of 1953. The first production version, the AIM-9B, entered service with the United States Navy in 1956. The United States Air Force (USAF) did not adopt it until 1964. Since then they have been used by all kinds of fighters from the US and 46 allied countries, including Spain, being used in aerial combat in different wars in recent decades. It is estimated that this missile has been responsible for the downing of some 270 aircraft.

A photo that gives us an idea of the size of an AIM-9X. Although it looks big, it is one of the smallest air-to-air missiles used by Western countries (Photo: U.S. Air Force).

The Spanish Air Force comments the following about this missile: "It is a short-range, infrared-guided supersonic air-to-air missile of North American origin that is equipped with an optical or laser detector with a high-explosive homing head This type of sensor allows the pilot to launch the missile and leave the combat area or perform evasive actions while the missile continues its automatic guidance to the target, that is, is a missile with 'fire and forget' characteristics. The missile is guided by tracking the infrared energy of the thermal source that every aircraft gives off."

US Marine personnel transporting an AIM-9X Sidewinder at the base in Iwakuni, Japan (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps).

Regarding the version used to shoot down the Chinese balloon, the Spanish Air Force states the following: "The latest development of the Sidewinder missile family, the AIM-9X, significantly increases the characteristics of the current versions, which which provides a greater field of view and greater maneuverability thanks to a new seeker head and a new thrust vectoring engine."

US Marine personnel placing an AIM-9X on the port wing marginal mount of an F/A-18D Hornet fighter (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps).

The AIM-9X is 3 meters long (9.9 feet), and the missile body has a diameter of 13 cm (5 inches). The wingspan of its hind flippers is 45 cm (17.6 inches), and its weight is 84 kg (186 lbs). Despite how widespread it is, its top speed is rated, according to the US Navy, although it is a supersonic missile and is estimated to exceed Mach 2.5< /strong>(3.087 km/h or 1918 mph). Its range is also rated, although it is estimated to be able to shoot down targets at a distance of about 35.4 km (22 miles).

Its warhead consists of 9.36 kg (20.8 lbs) of a conventional annular blast fragmentation. This means that even if the missile misses its target, its warhead explodes, spewing fragments into the air. all directions, in order to reach the enemy aircraft. It is a very common system in air-to-air missiles and also in anti-missile missiles.


Lead photo: U.S. Air Force. An AIM-9X Sidewinder on the port wing underwing mount of an F-35A Lightning II fighter of the USAF 33rd Fighter Wing.

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