Tag Archives: AIM-9 Sidewinder

Interesting Photo Shows F-22 Raptor Landing At RAF Lakenheath With Open Missile Bay

This Is Something You Don’t See Too Often.

The photographs in this post were taken by our contributor Alessandro Fucito on Oct. 12, 2017. They show a U.S. Air Force Raptor jet, belonging to the 1st FW, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, deployed to the UK, since Oct. 8, landing at RAF Lakenheath with the side weapon bay open.

The stealth multirole jet AF 08-154 is one of the six involved in a FTD (Flying Training Deployment) in Europe. The aircraft have just completed a tour of duty at Al Dhafra airbase, UAE, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq.

Noteworthy, an AIM-9X Sidewinder can be seen inside the open weapon bay.

The F-22 with the open side bays landing at RAF Lakenheath. (Image: Alessandro Fucito).

The latest variant of the Sidewinder missile is a recent addition to the F-22 Raptor inventory: the IR-guided missile has been integrated on Mar. 1, 2016, when the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) belonging to the 3rd Wing stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska officially became the first combat-operational Raptor unit to equip an F-22 with the AIM-9X Sidewinder.

Most of US combat planes use the AIM-9X along with a Helmet Mounted Display since 2003 (by the way, one was fired at a Syrian Su-22 recently, but failed for reasons that are still unclear): with a HMD (like the American Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System – JHMCS), information imagery (including aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming etc) are projected on the visor enabling the pilot to look out in any direction with all the required data always in his field of vision. The HMD enables the pilot to exploit the full HOBS (High Off-Boresight) capabilities of the AIM-9X and engage a target by simply looking at it.

However the AIM-9X will not be coupled to a HMD as the Raptor is not equipped with such kind of helmet that provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery as the project to implement it was axed following 2013 budget cuts.

In 2019, the Air Force plans to equip the F-22 with the AIM-9X Block II, the F-22 will probably fill the gap as the most advanced variant of the Sidewinder is expected to feature a Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, for Helmetless High Off-Boresight (HHOBS) at intermediate range: the air-to-air missile will be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards even though it is behind the launching aircraft.

This will not give the F-22 the same ability as an HMD-equipped aircraft, still better than nothing.

The different AIM-9X envelopes (credit: Hughes via The War Zone)

Back to the top photo, we don’t know the reason why the aircraft flew with an open weapon bay. Although the aircraft can take-off and land with the open side bays, it’s something that happens quite rarely and this leads to believe it might have been because of some sort of system fault that prevented it from being closed.

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Gripen E Next Generation Smart Fighter Makes Successful First Flight

First flight success for Gripen E

On Thursday June 15, at 10:32LT, the Gripen E aircraft (designation 39-8) took off on its maiden flight from Saab’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden.

Flown by a Saab test pilot, the aircraft flew over the eastern parts of Östergötland for 40 minutes and along with retracting and extending the landing gear, carried out a number of basic maneuvers.

“The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations. Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling. Needless to say I’m very happy to have piloted this maiden flight,” says Marcus Wandt, Experimental Test Pilot, Saab, in a statement.

The aircraft, a new multirole variant of the Gripen fighter, based on the proven C/D platforms tailored for the future Network Centric Warfare (NCW) environment, was officially unveiled at the company base in Likoping, Sweden, on May 18, 2016.

The aircraft is much similar to its predecessor: an IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) bump in front of the cockpit in the nose section as well as the missile warning system on the air intakes are the main external differentiators.

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According to Saab, Gripen E offers operational dominance and flexibility with superior mission survivability. Air-to-air superiority is guaranteed with METEOR, AMRAAM, IRIS-T, AIM-9 missile capability and supercruise.

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Air-to-surface capability is assured through the use of the latest generation precision weapons and targeting sensors. Gripen E’s superior situation awareness is ensured through an AESA radar, IRST passive sensor, HMD (Helmet Mounted Display), cutting-edge avionics, next generation data processing and a state-of-the-art cockpit.

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Furthermore, its Network Centric Warfare capabilities include advanced data communications, dual data links, satellite communications and video links. On-board sensors, in combination with HMD/NVG, deliver the ability to detect and destroy a wide variety of targets, even at night or in poor weather conditions.

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“This is an important milestone in the development programme of Gripen E, of which first deliveries to Sweden and Brazil are expected by 2019. Gripen E has been designed with the future in mind, incorporating the most advanced technology and providing excellent tactical flexibility. As a truly multi-role fighter, fully NATO-interoperable, we are very confident that Gripen E meets the demanding operational requirements expressed by the Belgian Air Force as it seeks to replace its current fleet of fighter aircraft,” Per Alriksson, Campaign Director for Gripen in Belgium, said.

“Gripen E differs also from any other fighter aircraft with unrivalled cost efficiency in combination with advanced technology and operational effectiveness.”

The Gripen single-engine multirole fighter aircraft has already had some important export successes: the baseline JAS-39C currently serves with the Swedish, South African, Czech, Hungarian and Royal Thai Air Force, and there are orders in place in Brazil and Sweden, and some good chances to win other interesting bids, including Switzerland.

H/T Henry Blom for the heads-up

 

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Swiss Hornets and Austrian Typhoons provide Davos World Economic Forum 2017 Air Cover

Swiss F-18 Hornets and Austrian Eurofighters provided Davos World Economic Forum 2017 Air Defense.

From Jan. 16 to 20, Swiss and Austrian Air Force jets contributed to the security of the WEF international conference at Davos, Switzerland.

This year’s Swiss Air Force MOB (Main Operating Base) was Sion airbase, in southwestern Switzerland, with Meiringen airfield being its alternate.

The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito went to Sion and took the stunning photographs in this post.

The Hornet jets taking part in the air policing missions to enforce the NFZ (No Fly Zone) over Davos carried 2 live AIM-9X Sidewinders at the wingtips and either two live AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missiles) or one AIM-120 and the ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra Red) pod, particularly useful to perform long-range visual IDs (as shown by the U.S. Navy in Syria…)

All the Hornets had the text “STBY 121.5” message on their 1,200 lt centerline external fuel tank: a message to any intercepted aircraft to switch their radio to the international VHF emergency frequency 121.5 MHz to get instructions from the interceptor and the air defense radar.

Although several F-5E Tigers from Fliegerstaffel 19 operated from Sion during WEF, unlike the past years, neither of these seemed to carry live AIM-9P Sidewinder IR-guided AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) at the wingtips meaning that they were either flying with their 20mm gun only or were not actively taking part in the air cover of the Davos conference.

Dealing with the Austrian Air Force, the Eurofighter Typhoons based at Zeltweg (and usually deployed to Innsbruck to fly air policing missions with a single IRIS-T missile and two fuel tanks), supported the WEF 2017 air cover as part of this year’s airspace security operation dubbed “Daedalus 17.”

Image credit: Alessandro Fucito

 

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Better late than never: Alaskan Raptors are the first F-22s to be armed with the AIM-9X

90th Fighter Squadron is the first F-22 Raptor combat unit equipped with the AIM-9X dogfight missile.

On Mar. 1, 2016 the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) belonging to the 3rd Wing stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska officially became the first combat-operational Raptor unit to equip an F-22 with the AIM-9X Sidewinder.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Chuck Jenkins, 3rd Wing Weapons Manager, the AIM-9X will increase the already outstanding Raptor’s combat capabilities. “This has been in the inventory for the Air Force and Navy for some years; it’s nothing new to the military, but to put it on the Ferrari of aircraft – the F-22, the most advanced aircraft we have – it gives the pilots more maneuverability, larger range, and it’s a much faster missile” he said.

A claim confirmed by Lt. Col David Skalicky, commander of the 90th FS, who highlighted that, like the F-22 is a generation beyond the fighters that came before it, the AIM-9X is a generation beyond the previous variants of the Sidewinder missile: “Every aspect about this missile, it’s a huge capability increase in all facets, we can employ it in more scenarios, at greater range, and reach edges of the envelope we would have had a more difficult time reaching with the AIM-9M.”

The late arrival of the AIM-9X (already integrated in most of US combat planes since 2003) to the F-22 very well may signal a new era in Air Force airpower, since as told by Skalicky “this missile makes the most lethal combat aircraft the world has ever seen even more capable. It’s a giant enhancement to the already formidable F-22 arsenal.”

Noteworthy, the AIM-9X will not be coupled to a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) as the F-22 is not equipped with such kind of helmet that provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery (the project to implement it was axed following 2013 budget cuts).

With a HMD (like the American Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System – JHMCS), information imagery (including aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming etc) are projected on the visor enabling the pilot to look out in any direction with all the required data always in his field of vision.

The HMD would enable the pilot to exploit the full HOBS (High Off-Boresight) capabilities of the AIM-9X and engage a target by simply looking at it.

However, the F-22 will probably fill the gap and benefit of the AIM-9X Block II, that is expected to feature a Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, for Helmetless High Off-Boresight (HHOBS): the air-to-air missile will be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards even though it is behind the launching aircraft.

Initial testing highlighted a problem though: whilst HHOBS in Block II worked pretty well, its performance was below the performance seen in Block I.

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Image credit: Senior Airman Laura Turner and Senior Airman Garrett Hothan / U.S. Air Force

 

Watch this: fantastic footage of F-16 firing AIM-9X and AIM-120 missiles, downing drone

Royal Danish Air Force F-16s involved in a LIVEX (Live Firing Exercise).

Last week some RDAF F-16 pilots were involved in a LIVEX over the North Sea.

During the Live Firing Exercise, the Danish pilots had the opportunity to fire AIM-9L and AIM-9X Sidewinder IR-guided air-to-air missiles against burning flares as well as AIM-120 AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles).

And, fortunately, they also filmed the live firing activity with both GoPro cameras as well as the aircraft’s targeting pod (you will probably remember the epic selfie shot during a Livex last year by a RDAF pilot).

The RDAF video clearly shows the Danish pilots wearing the JHMCS (joint helmet-mounted cueing system) a multi-role system that enhances pilot situational awareness and provides head-out control of aircraft targeting systems and sensors.

The helmet can be used in an air-to-air role: in this case it was used in combination with the AIM-9X missile, as High-Off-BoreSight (HOBS) system, that enables pilots to cue onboard weapons against enemy aircraft merely by pointing their heads at the targets to guide the weapons.