Talk:AIM-9 Sidewinder

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The intro says "AIM-9 is one of the oldest, least expensive, and most successful", but has a listed cost of over half-million USD ($664,933). Which is more than the ultra expensive Tomahawk cruse missile $569K (USD 1999). says they should be around $55K (USD 1999)Larek (talk) 20:45, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

AIM-9X is very different from the 1999 AIM-9M. The unit cost listed in the box is the total program cost divided by number purchased. I believe this counts all costs, R&D, etc for AIM-9X program. It cost money to make new things and that cost rolls into the unit cost. Maybe that's not what people expect for that infobox item. You could look for something more recent that leaves out program costs. Inflation is also a factor. $569,000 1999 USD for a Tomahawk = $818037 today. That was 15 years ago and probably didn't count all program costs. --Dual Freq (talk) 22:31, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Don't forget p&p Bosley John Bosley (talk) 16:27, 14 May 2017 (UTC)


The article presently states that the seeker for the pre-FPA (focal plane array) AIM-9's used Cadmium Sulfide photoresistors. I am almost certain that this is NOT the case - in my experience CdS cells are not sensitive to thermal IR at all. I think that the AIM-9B may have used PbS (lead sulfide) but more recent models, like the Lima and Mike, use more sensitive, exotic sensor materials like Indium-Antimonide (InSb) or Mercury Cadmium Teluride (HgCdTe) which are much more sensitive than PbS - and that this was the enabling technology behind the all-aspect ability. The article also states that the nose is glass - glass doesn't transmit thermal (long-wave) IR very well - I think that the AIM-9 seeker window is probably pure Silicon, just like the windows on passive IR sensors used in building motion detectors. Finally, the article states that compressed gas cooling was used for the Mike and Lima. I am not sure but I THOUGHT that Peltier device cooling was used for at least one variant, so that it had an indefinite length of active seeking time while on the rail. Can anyone verify either the article or my recollections? I do not have all the references lined up to actually make these changes to the article. Sbreheny (talk) 05:25, 15 May 2010 (UTC)


There's nothing in this article that talks about the familiar growl pilots hear when the sidewinder is armed. Thats how many people distinguish this missile from others.

The 'growl' isn't something specific to the Sidewinder... the growl is a feedback mechanism designed to allow the pilot to know how well the seeker tracking the target.SidewinderX (talk) 14:43, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Are you sure? I was under the impression that the growl, at least for the reticle-based Sidewinders, was actually the sound of one of the electrical signals in the seeker being fed to the pilot's headphones. In other words, an early "hack" at a simple feedback means which stuck because it worked well. Sbreheny (talk) 05:18, 15 May 2010 (UTC)


Early history - the tale of Sidewinder is fascinating and one that China Lake is justifiably proud. Best single reference on web of early days is American Heritage article [1] but there are several books out on the subject that cover same ground.HJ 00:19, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

For the "General Characteristics" section I've added the version of the missile, since different versions of the Sidewinder obviously have different specifications. From the text, I've guessed it refers to the AIM-9B (it gives the date as 1956). The discussion of the guidance systems of the Sidewinder and Enzian missiles is very interesting and would be made easier to follow with diagrams (& the Enzian description probably wants to go on the page for that missile). -- Cabalamat 00:35, 28 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I do believe the Sidewinder was created at China Lake not Inyokern as stated. In 2002 the 50th anniversary was celebrated for the Sidewinder. If that's the case, Sidewinder's development was done at China Lake in 1952. Quill and Pen (talk) 19:41, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Weight - 190lb is 86kg, not 91kg[edit]

What is the correct weight, 190lb or 91kg ?


needs moar data table.mnemonic 15:10, 2004 Jun 21 (UTC)

word. i can do a data table for it. however, the problem is youve got a vast variance among the AIM-9. You've got the AIM-9 L, M, and X, as well as this goddamn AGM-122A. So what do you build a table off of, amigo? Avriette 01:39, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'll have a go at transferring one of the other nicely-laid-out data tables from another missile to this page at some point soon. They do have some things in common, since they're part of the same series, but differences will either have to be in ranges (such as cost) or indicated individually. Dancraggs 18:24, 25 November 2006 (UTC)


it's my fault for not finding the pre-existing page for the SIDEARM. however, the two munitions are so closely related that its really better to just merge the two articles. Avriette 01:39, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

  • That may be, but I think you have it backwards. The Sidearm article should be merged into the Sidewinder article, seeing as the Sidewinder is the older and more widespread missile and the Sidearm was developed from it. Indrian 04:38, Apr 23, 2005 (UTC)
    • I wasn't taking polarity into account when I added the merge notice. I just figured since there was one resultant article that somebody would Do The Right Thing. Thanks. Avriette 06:32, May 1, 2005 (UTC)

There is one sentance that seems to beg for futher elaboration, specifically; "The AIM-9M-7 was a specific modification to AIM-9M in response to threats expected in the Persian Gulf war zone." Nothing about what what modifications were made or what threats were accomidated is mentioned. I would contend that without that supporting information the statement as-is is non-value-added.

AIM-9X page[edit]

The AIM-9X should be a separate article due to the fact its a vast departure from the rest of the AIM-9 series.

Whilst the AIM-9X has many advances on some of the earlier versions, it is still classed as an AIM-9 missile, and as such it should stay on this page so that modifications can be listed in addition to the characteristics of the earlier versions. Dancraggs 18:24, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

AIM-9X is truly a significant upgrade and would have been an entirely new missile had the international ASRAAM program proceeded as originally envisioned under the Family of Weapons MOA (US to develop AMRAAM; UK and Germany to develop ASRAAM). However, the German seeker team had issues and ASRAAM ground to stop leading US to initiate AIM-9X to handle latest IRCM threat. Interestingly, UK revived ASRAAM and approached US to rejoin the program, but the the US had not only begun AIM-9X, but upgraded requirement based on recent exploitation of AA-11 Archer (R-73) and was not longer interested in the proposed ASRAAM configuration. Oddly enough, the UK had gone to US Hughes company for a replacement seeker (since the Germans were still in a lurch*) and that seeker is basically the same for both AIM-9X and ASRAAM. AIM-9X does use existing rocket motor, fuze and warhead, which allowed it to proceed more rapidly into development due to lower risk and cost. It is truly "not your father's Sidewinder", but is certainly part of the Sidewinder family.HJ 00:19, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

  • The seeker eventually was developed for IRIS-T SRM

The article states that the Raptor can carry two AIM-9X in the side bays. This is not true. While they could physically fit in the bay, the bay is designed with a single trapeze and can only carry one missile. See [ ] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:07, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

It was not only the seeker of the missile, but the Thrust Vector-Control that made the difference. The soviets used TVC since 1982 in their AA-11, while the Sidewinder still had Canards. It was a big surprise for the NATO-forces 1990, when they realized that all their air-combat-simulations had been useless for years. Goethe528 (talk) 12:47, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Just a note the Aim-9X is a totally different missile systems than the Aim-9, congress refused to pay for a new missile system, so the Aim-9 was "upgraded". Odds are the DOD having seen it work once, will pull this trick again. If you want details you will have to talk to the DOD, since most of the info on the missile system is still classified, as it is still in use.


looking for more info after looking here, I searched google and discovered that the same exact text appears on a number of other sites. I suspect this article was largely cut and paste

e. Correcting for this spin would normally require some sort of sensor to tell which way is "down" and then adding controls to correct it. Instead, small control surfaces were placed at the rear of the missile with spinning disks on their outer surface. Airflow over the disk spins them to a high speed. If the missile sta

search for some of this on google.

I'll investigate this when I make modifications to this article soon. Thanks for the heads up. Dancraggs 18:24, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
On different websites like and I often read my own words and my wikipedia pictures are there too. So if you find some text similar to wiki's, other places, it could have been cut and pasted from wikipedia. Necessary Evil 20:01, 25 November 2006 (UTC)


On a side note, I noticed that there is no article for the explosive tritonol in Wiki. The chemical Picric acid is very similar or related. It may be used in the fuse or booster but I don't know for sure. The US military makes extensive use of tritonol (i.e. the Mk.8x series et al), it seems important enough for it to have its' own article but I don't have enough information to create the article myself. Any takers? 13:09, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

SEAM and VTAS[edit]

I know it stands for Sidewinder Expanded Acquisition Mode but what is it really and what technology or modifications did it involve? Also, was the AN/AVG-8A VTAS (Visual Target Acquisition Mode) a development that was related to SEAM? Wikiphyte 02:12, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

VTAS - Versatile Target Aquisition System developed for Naval Weapons Center (China Lake, CA) approx. 1983. VTAS was used to track airborne weapons via a microwave link for the purposes of testing anti-jamming capabilities etc... VTAS recieved an Outstanding Achievment Award as the first unmaned weapons testing and tracking system. The principle was based on data from a known ground based microwave transponder coupled with an onboard aircraft weapons microwave transponder. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:17, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

FCT reference[edit]

The reference to the US Foreign Cooperative Test (FCT) Program should be Foreign COMPARATIVE Test ... which is exactly what the title implies: Comparing a foreign technology or system against a US one or a US requirement if no US equivalent exists. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:01, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

DIM-9 Sidewinder[edit]

Last week I took this picture at the Dutch Military Aviation Museum, but I can't find anything about the missile. The name would suggest that it is related to the AIM-9, perhaps a paragraph about it is in order? - Dammit (talk) 16:32, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

According to [2] the prefix D means dummy, so IMHO DIM-9 Sidewinder is a dummy Sidewinder missile for training ground personnel. Regards, Necessary Evil (talk) 16:46, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
That makes sense, but what seems odd to me is that the missile looks so different from the regular variant, the missile I photographed is very short (say 40-50 cm) and even the fins are shaped differently. - Dammit (talk) 17:03, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
The Sidewinder missile is composed of sections [3] and the front 40-50 cm is the seeker head and the front movable fins - your picture suggest AIM-9A or -9B as described in [4]. So your picture must IMHO be the front section of a dummy Sidewinder missile. The aft section is the rocket motor and four fixed fins and the middle sections are the warhead and the fuze section. A live warhead and a live rocket motor are too risky to exhibit - so the DIM-9 has perhaps concrete instead. The front end's seeker head is very fragile; when I was in the air force I heard about some armourers who removed a jammed live missile by hitting the seeker head with a wooden wheel chock ;-( That must be why the DIM-9 was invented but the museum has only room for the front section. Regards, Necessary Evil (talk) 23:55, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
I asked an acquaintance about this and they used a ATM-9L for firing practice and a DATM-9L for loading and handling practice. This seem to be confirmed over at DIM-9 might be a Dutch designation rather than a United States designation. Two way time (talk) 23:04, 10 January 2014 (UTC)


The F22 page refers to the Sidewinder as both an air-to-air and an air-to-ground missile. However this article makes only a mention of an anti-tank experiment in China Lake, regarding the AIM-9s air-to-ground capabilities. Shouldn't this role be covered more extensively? --Ferengi (talk) 06:48, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Are you refering to the "Air to ground loadout" in the Specs section? That is the "mission" loadout, what it could carry in the air-to-ground role, with the AIM-9 and -120 for self-defense against other aircraft, not as sir-to-ground weapons. That's all I could find on the F-22 page. Btw, AGM-122 Sidearm was an air-to-ground weapon, made as a modification of old USN AIM-9C stocks. Presumably the airframe, at least the early ones, needed little modification for the role. - BillCJ (talk) 08:15, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I was referring to that section, thanks for clearing it up. Maybe there should be a clarification in the F-22 article regarding what mission loadout and roles are. It would avoid confusion for people with elementary knowledge on the subject like me. --Ferengi (talk) 09:01, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
I was thinking of doing that, but I'm not sure what wording to use. I'll keep thinking on possible wordings. - BillCJ (talk) 09:05, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Compromised Technology Section[edit]

The last line in the comprisemed technology section bothers me. "In the 1960s, the possession of the K-13 in the Soviet arsenal caused major changes in the USAF bombing tactics, forcing bombers from high-altitudes down to lower levels, below enemy radar coverage." First, this isn't cited in any way. Second, while the K-13 may have contributed to the change in strategy, I believe the development of high altitude surface-to-air missles, like the SA-2_Guideline had a much larger contribution. —Preceding unsigned comment added by SidewinderX (talkcontribs) 14:28, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Early development[edit]

If I remember correctly, years ago I saw on discovery channel a documentary about a plane crashed on a lake which was later revealed it was involved in the testing of the aim-9 seeker against solar radiation. seems to be this one: 1948 B-29 Lake Mead crash --Jor70 (talk) 23:33, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Hit rate in Falklands[edit]

"In its first combat use by Israel over Lebanon and by the United Kingdom during the Falklands War, the "Lima" reportedly achieved a kill ratio of around 80%..."

I can't dig up the quote (I gave the book away and I can't remember which book - might be Nigel Ward's book "Sea Harrier Over the Falklands"?), but I recall reading that every single Sidewinder fired achieved a kill. If that was so, the hit rate in the Falklands was 100%. Toby Douglass (talk) 07:56, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

I remember read FAA pilots reports describing missiles passing thru --Jor70 (talk) 11:35, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Were they air-launched Sidewinders? plenty of ship launched (non-Sidewinder) missiles missed. Toby Douglass (talk) 13:52, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
I will need to reead my books but by memory I think ward's aim9 fell short on his c-130 kill --Jor70 (talk) 15:34, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes! I think I remember this too - AIM9, didn't connect, he closed and used the cannon. Toby Douglass (talk) 15:22, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
On the C130 kill, the first missile fired, fell short & the second started a fire on port wing between engines, and Ward then used 240 rounds of 30mm cannon fire (all of it) before the Aircraft fell. Several more Lima’s Fell short & due to some inexperience at least two were not looked when fired, I have added some more data to the Falklands engagements backed up by a ref--Steve Bowen (talk) 10:39, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

SRM Acronym[edit]

The SRM acronym is used in the text but there is no SRM entry in the list of acronyms beginning with "SR" and there is no explanation in the text what the acronym stands for. It's probably "short range missile", but it can't hurt to clarify or link to and update the list of acronyms. AadaamS (talk) 12:44, 12 April 2010 (UTC)


I took out the physics section - a page on a missile isn't the place to discuss the history of this stuff. Probably Infrared homing is, but that is linked on the very first line William M. Connolley (talk) 22:36, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

The Enzian "connection" (?) - a modest proposal[edit]

In the section "History" there's a paragraph starting with The Sidewinder incorporated a number of innovations over the independently developed World War II German Missile Enzian's "Madrid" IR range fuze that enabled it to be successful. - shouldn't this mention of an apparently unrelated device be edited-out? I don't mean a simple deletion of the above quoted phrase, as the following paragraphs are giving an useful information on the principles of the Sidewinder's seeker operation, but it makes little sense doing it in comparison with an unrelated missile. Perhaps it would be better if this section is moved to the Infrared homing article. (And yes - have I known how to rephrase it, I'd already done it.) -- (talk) 15:10, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

First combat use[edit]

"In the first encounter on 24 September 1958, the Sidewinders were used to ambush the MiG-17s as they flew past the Sabres thinking they were invulnerable to attack. The MiGs broke formation and descended to the altitude of the Sabres in swirling dogfights. This action marked the first successful use of air-to-air missiles in combat in history, and the downed MiG's as their first casualties." This is problematic. It's mostly a word-for-word copy of this source, which says nothing about shoot-downs, only that the Sidewinders disrupted the MiG formation. The bit about "the downed MiG's" (sic) has been added by a Wikipedia editor, presumably based on an enthusiastic misreading of the source. Were any MiGs shot down? How many? (talk) 11:02, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

Name selection[edit]

The section called "name selection"; should it more properly, for an encyclopedia format, be called "Namesake"? Two way time (talk) 23:12, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

Is Portugal not an operator?[edit]

I think Portugal uses Sidewinders in their F-16s, and a picture in the F-16 page of a PoAF shows it carrying Sidewinders. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Redundant and self contradicting paragraph[edit]

The current article says

"The AIM-9H model contained a 25-pound (11 kg) expanding rod-blast fragmentary warhead. All other models up to the AIM-9M contained a 22-pound (10 kg) annular blast fragmentary warhead. The missile's warhead rods can break rotor blades (an immediately fatal event for any helicopter)."

However, a continuous-rod or expanding rod-blast fragmentary warhead is the same thing as an annular blast fragmentary warhead – at least according to the linked article. If there is a difference in the warheads, other than the weight, the current wording fails to express it and the second wikilink is redundant. Rincewind42 (talk) 15:04, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

Why don't you just edit it yourself to say what is most likely meant? Ie: change "annular blast fragmentation" to something like "conventional blast/fragmentation warhead". Its obviously what is meant, its easy to verify and would probably have taken less time. Yes I am aware of the irony in this paragraph. (talk) 15:48, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

I was under the impression that an annular blast fragmentary warhead was a fragmentation warhead which vectors its fragments in an annular pattern, while a continuous rod warhead expands a connected ring shaped wire in an annular pattern...if it fragments, it effectiveness is halved. I believe the original statement is accurate, regardless of what the linked article says..45Colt 03:47, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

Israeli use over Bekaa valley[edit]

"In that same year but over Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, 51 out of the 55 Syrian-flown MiGs shot down were hit by Israeli Air Force Sidewinders." I strongly doubt this, since they had Python 3 missiles at the time. Compare the Python article : "The Python-3 is a much-improved AAM with all-aspect attack ability, higher speed, range, and performance. It performed well before and during the 1982 Lebanon War, scoring 35 (other sources claim 50) kills.[7]" I suppose the source-less 51/55 claim here is wrong as it most likely includes the Python 3's successes. I delete it for this reason. Feel free to reintroduce it if you have a proper source. Lastdingo (talk) 01:29, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Nickname , early design details ?[edit]

Didn't this article once explain where the "Sidewinder" name came from, and details about how the seeker was developed from the early spinning mirror into the later staring array, etc? Details about each variant beyond their operational history? The explanation of the name seems especially lacking..45Colt 03:37, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

It's a pretty crappy article, to be sure. Ron Westrum's book is essential reading for this (it's a great book, even makes a good management textbook for technical laboratories too). That covers the early development and the original seekers well.
AIUI though, there really is nothing to the name. It's just a snake with IR hunting. Nothing about the technology or movement beyond that. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:14, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

That doesn't seem right...[edit]

"The only changes from the AIM-9L to the AIM-9M were related to the Guidance Control Section (GCS). "

The statement directly above this states the missile also received a new motor. One of these two appears incorrect or could use a little touch-up to better explain what it means. Maury Markowitz (talk) 13:24, 14 September 2015 (UTC)