Published on Jun 05, 2023

Abstract of Sidewinder Missile

All of the expensive technology that goes into a fighter jet. Attack helicopter or bomber wouldn't be much use on the battlefield with out any ordnance.while there're not as expensive or complex as the military that carry them guns, missiles and bombs are pretty impressive aircraft in their own right. Smart weapons don't just sail through the air: they actually find their own way to the target.

One of the oldest and most successful smart weapons in the U.S arsenal, the legendry AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. The small and simple sidewinder is a highly effective combination of electronics and explosive power, brought together with incredible technical ingenuity.


The Sidewinder AIM-9 (air intercept missile 9) is classified as a short-range, air-to-air missile. Simply put, its job is to launch from an airborne aircraft and "kill" an enemy aircraft (damage it to the point that it goes down). Missiles like the Sidewinder are called smart weapons because they have built-in seeking systems that let them home in on a target.

The technology of smart weapons really got going in the decade following World War II. Most early guided weapon prototypes were built around radar technology, which proved to be expensive and problematic. These missiles had their own radar sensors, but obviously could not carry their own radar transmitters. For the guidance system to lock on an enemy plane, some remote radar system had to "illuminate" the target by bouncing radar beams off of it. In most cases, this meant the pilot had to keep the aircraft in a vulnerable position after firing in order to keep a radar lock on the enemy until the missile could find it. Additionally, the radar equipment in the missile was large and expensive, which made for a high-cost, bulky weapon. Most of these missiles had something around a 90 percent failure rate (nine shots out of 10 missed their targets)


In 1947, a Naval physicist named Bill McLean took it upon himself to build a better system -- a missile that would seek out the heat from an enemy aircraft's engine system. Since the missile would home in on the target's own emitted energy, rather than reflected radio energy, the pilot could "fire and forget" -- that is, he could launch the missile and get clear. In place of the bulky radar equipment, the missile would use a relatively small heat-sensing photovoltaic cell to "see" the target. This meant it could be built much smaller than the current radar prototypes, and at a much lower costOfficially, the Navy had no interest in non-radar guidance systems, but at the China Lake, California, Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) where McLean was employed, researchers had enough freedom to pursue unconventional projects. Under the guise of missile fuze development, McLean and his colleagues worked out the design of the first Sidewinder prototypes. Six years later, in September 1953, the missile had its first successful test run.