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Portugal joining AIM-9X missile operators club as 29th member

Portuguese F-16 fighters getting AIM-9X missiles
Illustration: Portuguese Air Force photo of an F-16 fighter

Portugal has officially become an international partner in the US Navy’s Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-9X program as the 29th member.

The Air-to-Air Missiles Program Office (PMA-259) welcomed Portugal after the country announced it signed and accepted the AIM-9X Block II missile letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) on September 28.

The signed LOA allows PMA-259 to procure 18 AIM-9X Block II missiles on behalf of the Portuguese Air Force to complement Portugal’s F-16 fleet.

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

Portugal is the second country to join the AIM-9X program this year. In February this year, Italy and the US Navy announced a “modest amount” of missiles would be ordered under the Lot 23 production contract. In Italian service, AIM-9X Block II/II+ missiles will be employed by the F-35 fleet.

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 Block II completed operational test and the Navy declared initial operational capability in the spring of 2015.

“The PMA-259 International Programs Team has been working with Portugal representatives since January on this specific LOA effort and has supported an international relationship with Portugal for many years,” the navy said.