Finland is buying another hundred
U.S. AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, for its 64 F-18C and D fighters.
Finland got its F-18s in the late 1990s, replacing Russian MiG-21s and Swedish
Drakens. The Sidewinder missiles, including spare parts and training, will cost
about $200,000 each.
Although over half a century old, the Sidewinder
has been the most effective air-to-air missile ever produced. The first
Sidewinder (AIM-9B) was 9.28 feet long, weighed 156 pounds and had a max range
of five kilometers . The most current one (AIM-9X), half a century later . is
9.5 feet long, weighs 191 pounds and has a max range of over 20 kilometers. The
latest version can go after the target from all angles, while the AIM-9B could
only be used from directly behind the target. The AIM-9X is about seven times
more likely to bring down the target than the AIM-9B. The 9X entered service in
2000, but the older 9M is nearly as accurate, although more expensive to
The Sidewinder has nearly 300 kills world-wide to
date. But that means for every 380 Sidewinders manufactured, only one brought
down an enemy aircraft. Only about one percent of all Sidewinders ever even got
used in combat. The vast majority of the 110,000 built, spent their careers
being carried by fighters, or stored away, waiting for a war. For that reason,
the missile is designed for easy upgrades. Many of those in service have some
components that are over twenty years old. The missile itself, is more like an
aircraft component, than an expendable weapon.