Home Tech Ukraine will receive Sidewinder missiles: What are their capabilities?

Ukraine will receive Sidewinder missiles: What are their capabilities?

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Canada donate Delivering 43 AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles to Ukraine directly from Canadian Armed Forces stocks.

AIM-9L Sidewinder missile mounted on the United States Air Force (USAF) A-10C Warthog. Image credit: RoyKabanlit (via) WikimediaCC-BY-SA-4.0

The donation is aimed at boosting Ukraine’s air defense capabilities as the Russian offensive continues. The decision was announced by Defense Minister Anita Anand.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder missile is renowned for its effectiveness in air combat. Despite being introduced in 1956, these missiles are still in use today due to their outstanding efficiency. In fact, these ammunition will continue to exist in the US Air Force’s active reserves until 2050.

Ukraine receives 43 AIM-9 missiles. All of these are procured from the Canadian Armed Forces stockpile.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder missile is manufactured by the American company Raytheon. It’s an air-to-air bullet. Since its birth, it has undergone repeated improvements and continues to be mass-produced today. There are currently more than ten different versions of this weapon, but it remains unclear which version Ukraine will receive.

A dummy AIM-9L missile on the right wingtip of a Danish Air Force F-16B.

A dummy AIM-9L missile on the right wingtip of a Danish Air Force F-16B. Image credits: MKFI (via Wikimedia), CC0

The latest AIM-9X is also used in fifth generation fighters such as the F-35. Cumulative production of AIM-9 exceeds 200,000 units.

Interestingly, the Soviets reverse engineered the AIM-9 missile and developed their own version called the K-13/R-13.

What are the main features of the AIM-9 Sidewinder?

The AIM-9 Sidewinder missile is a widely used air-to-air weapon known for its effectiveness in combat scenarios. Over the years it has been produced by his three companies: Raytheon, Ford Aerospace and Loral Corporation. The standalone Block II Plus is priced at about $400,000.

The AIM-9 was designed in 1953 and is still in production today.

A single missile weighs 85.3 kg (188 lb) and is 3 meters long. Weighing 9.4 kg (20.8 lb), he carries a WDU-17/B annular detonation fragmentation warhead. The rocket is fueled by a solid-fuel engine Hercules/Bermite Mk. 36.

Airborne GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, F/A-18C with AIM-9L "side winder" Capable of short-range air-to-air, it carries two external fuel tanks under the underwing pylons.

The F/A-18C is armed with airborne GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, AIM-9L “Sidewinder” short-range air-to-air, and carries two external fuel tanks under underwing pylons.via image WikimediaGFDL license

The weapon is a heat-seeking missile designed to track and engage air targets based on their heat signature. It is particularly effective against enemy aircraft, focusing on heat dissipation from aircraft engines. An infrared seeker that senses the heat source emitted by the target aircraft and locks onto it.

Maximum flight speed is Mach 2.5 or higher. The operating range he has is 1.0-35.4 km (0.6-22 miles).

The Sidewinder’s control surfaces are designed to rapidly turn and adjust its flight path to intercept agile targets. Targets can be attacked from multiple directions, providing a high probability of hitting regardless of the target’s position relative to the launching aircraft.

Major changes include AIM-9L, AIM-9M, AIM-9X, Block II and Block III. Each variant offers improved capabilities, such as increased range, enhanced guidance systems, and increased resistance to counter-attacks.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is compatible with many types of fighters. It can be deployed from F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, and a variety of fighter aircraft operated by different nations.

by Arius Noreika

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