Home Americas Italy joins US Navy’s AIM-9X missile program as 28th international partner

Italy joins US Navy’s AIM-9X missile program as 28th international partner

Italian F-35 AIM-9X
Lockheed Martin photo of an F-35 with GBU-31 JDAMs and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles during a 2018 test flight.

The US Navy’s Air-to-Air Missiles Program Office (PMA-259) recently welcomed Italy as its 28th Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-9X international partner.

The Italian Embassy in Washington D.C. notified the Navy International Programs Office that the Italian Air Force accepted and signed the letter of offer & acceptance (LOA) provided by the US government.

Italian Air Force officials signed the LOA Nov. 19., and shortly after representatives from PMA-259 and Raytheon Missiles & Defense presented the AIM-9X Block II/II+ classified capabilities briefing to Italian Headquarters Air Force Staff and F-35 Lightning II pilots.

The US Naval Air Systems Command said the LOA would see Italy buy a “modest quantity” of AIM-9X Block II/II+ missiles to complement its F-35 fleet.

This procurement will be part of the US Navy’s Lot 23 production contract, which will award in 2023 and deliver missiles in 2026.

Additionally, the Italian Navy, which also operates the fifth-generation fighter aircraft, has been provided with a separate LOA for Lot 23 AIM-9X Block II/II+ missiles, and is expected to accept it soon.

Italy will receive AIM-9X missiles that will employ the true fifth-generation Block II/II+ capabilities of lock-on-after-launch, data link, and surface attack.

The AIM-9X Block II is the most advanced short range air-air missile in the US inventory, capable of using its datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker to hit targets behind the launching fighter. The AIM-9X Block II completed operational test and the Navy declared initial operational capability in the spring of 2015.