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AIM-9G Sidewinder

Short-range air-to-air missile

AIM-9G Sidewinder missile

The AIM-9G Sidewinder was developed for the US Navy and was based on the previous AIM-9D

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1970
Missile length 2.87 m
Missile diameter 0.13 m
Fin span 0.63 m
Missile weight ?
Warhead weight 11 kg
Warhead type Continuous rod
Range of fire 18 km
Guidance Infrared homing


   The first generation of AIM-9 Sidewinders had delivered mixed results in combat over Southeast Asia. While they were the most effective missile by far used by the US military in that theater, the short range and narrow azimuth of their seeker heads gave them much less utility than expected, and when stronger heat sources than the target entered their field of view (e.g., burning vehicles on the ground, factory smokestacks, and sun glare), Sidewinders would go after these instead. The Probability of Kill (pK) ratio was also far less than predicted, with Sidewinder launches only hitting targets 25% of the time in the most favorable reports (on average, the pK ratio of all Vietnam War Sidewinder launches combined was 10%) --- far from the promised 90%.

   The second generation of the Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles was created based on analyses of air combat reports in the Vietnam War. These missiles were the mainstay of many air arms around the world for over 30 years. The AIM-9G Sidewinder was a new missile based on the overall design of the AIM-9D, but with an improved seeker head. It was developed for the US Navy. It was adopted by the US Navy in 1970.

   The AIM-9G differ from the AIM-9D in having a slightly longer fuselage and a slightly shorter and more conical nosecone, and slightly larger forward fins, though several components are different. Few alterations were made to the AIM-9G's construction over the AIM-9D, with the only notable change being a new seeker head. The general composition of the AIM-9G Sidewinders is largely the same as of previous Sidewinder missiles.

   The guidance system used in the AIM-9G introduced a steerable seeker head that allowed for engagement of off-boresight targets, referred-to as the Sidewinder Extended Acquisition Mode (SEAM) system.

   A precursor to today's "all-aspect" guidance systems, SEAM allowed an aircraft launching the AIM-9G to attack targets that were generally in front of it, rather than literally having to point the missile itself directly at the target to achieve a lock. This significantly increased the usefulness of the Sidewinder, as obtaining a lock was much less difficult under these circumstances. SEAM also enabled the Sidewinder to be slaved onto a target before the missile even left the rail, greatly improving it's odds of destroying the target. The AIM-9G was still a "tail-chaser" however. It could only lock onto a jet aircraft from behind.

   The AIM-9G uses the same motor as other second generation Sidewinder missiles. It accelerates the missile to a speed of approximately Mach 2.5, within seconds after launch, by which time the propellant has already been expended.

   The AIM-9G uses the same warhead as the previous AIM-9D - the Mk.48 continuous rod warhead. It was powerful enough that a single Sidewinder could potentially shoot-down any aircraft with a single direct hit.

   It is unclear how many AIM-9G Sidewinders were ever produced. Different sources have produced different claims and there is a strong disagreement on production figures. Figures vary from 2 120 to 20 000 units, depending on the source.

   As with the AIM-9B Sidewinder, the second generation of Sidewinder missiles, including the -E, -F, -G, and -H models were very long-lived in operational service. Exactly how long they've remained in service is unclear, through given that some air arms still use the AIM-9B, some of these four newer missiles are probably still operational as well.

   The AIM-9G were all rebuilt by Philco-Ford Aerospace, with considerable assistance from Raytheon. Production of the AIM-9G ended by the mid-1970s, and any remaining serviceable examples are nearing their expiration dates. They are no longer available for production, and assuming any of them are still available for export, they are probably only worth their scrap value.

   The AIM-9G arrived in time to see some combat use over Southeast Asia. Relatively few were launched, achieving 14 kills.




   ATM-9G Sidewinder: Captive air training version of the AIM-9G. It has ballasts in place of the engine and warhead, and is used in training exercises to lock-onto other aircraft in mock dogfights.

   AIM-9H Sidewinder: This is basically an AIM-9G with substantial reliability improvements. The AIM-9H introduced solid state electronics, an improved warhead, and a thermal battery (which replaced the turbo-alternator used in the AIM-9D). The AIM-9H was also given an improved motor, made by Hercules Bermite, in the form of the Mk.36 Mod 5,6, or 7 (depending on which phase of production a given AIM-9H was built in). An improved version of the Mk.48 Continuous Rod is installed in the AIM-9H. This missile has a virtually identical exterior to that of the AIM-9G. It entered service with the US Navy in 1972.

   ATM-9H Sidewinder: These are basically ATM-9Gs upgraded to carry the seeker head of the AIM-9H.




   Article by BLACKTAIL

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AIM-9G Sidewinder missile

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AIM-9G Sidewinder missile

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AIM-9G Sidewinder missile

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AIM-9G Sidewinder missile

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