Hard as it may seem to believe but until last year the F-22 did not have the latest and greatest Sidewinder missile on board. For years 4th generation fighters like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 have had the AIM-9X in their arsenal but now all the Raptor pilots have it as well.

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Already on the F-15, F-16, F/A-18 and other fighter and attack aircraft since the 2000s, the AIM-9X was integrated in the Raptor fleet only last year.

The 9X Block 1 version of the dual-use, infrared missile is “a dramatic leap within visual range missile capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Daniel, an F-22 pilot of the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

“With the AIM-9M ‘Mike’ we kind of went out there going, ‘We have six missiles,’” Daniel joked, referring to the increased effort required to make the weapon effective in modern combat operations. “With AIM-9X, we step out the door going, ‘We got eight missiles on the jet.’

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“It’s literally that big [of] a difference … night and day different,” he said, adding, the AIM-9M was “literally a 50-year-old missile on the Air Force’s newest fighter.” – DefenseTECH

In 2019 the Air Force plans to upgrade the Raptor to the AIM-9X Block II missile.

Featured image of F-22 from the Combined Test Force (CTF) at Edwards AFB performs the first supersonic launch of an AIM-9X from an F-22 in supersonic flight. Maj Howland Ryan is at the control, cruising at 1.2 Mach. Photo by Lockheed Martin.

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