September 26, 2000: Testing the Sidewinder coupled with Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System

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  • Air Force Flight Test Center

An F-15 Combined Test Force team conducted a successful joint test of the AIM-9X Sidewinder coupled with the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System. The pilot used the new aiming system to launch the air-to-air missile over the Navy’s China Lake range, and destroyed an unmanned Phantom II drone.

The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System was a modular helmet display mounted on a light weight HGU 55/P helmet shell that can accommodate a day or night module.  The day module provides a 20-degree field-of-view visor projected monocular display. The helmet system provided several options for the night module including Night Vision Cueing Display QuadEye, 100-degree by 40-degree field of view or an Aviator Night Vision Imaging System, 40-degree field of view, with symbology or video inserted into the night-vision scene.  Thec helmet system incorporated a highly accurate magnetic tracking system, providing the pilot full situational awareness throughout the canopy field-of-regard and was in full-rate production and is operational on the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder was a short-range air-to-air missile which entered service with the US Navy in 1956 and subsequently adopted by the US Air Force in 1964. Since then the Sidewinder has proved to be an enduring international success, and its latest variants are still standard equipment in most western-aligned air forces.  The Soviet K-13, a reverse-engineered copy of the AIM-9, was also widely adopted by a number of nations.  Low-level development started in the late 1940s, emerging in the early 1950s as a guidance system for the modular Zuni rocket.  This modularity allowed for the introduction of newer seekers and rocket motors, including the AIM-9C variant, which used semi-active radar homing and served as the basis of the AGM-122 Sidearm anti-radar missile. Originally a tail-chasing system, early models saw extensive use during the Vietnam War but had a low success rate. This led to all-aspect capabilities in the L version which proved to be an extremely effective weapon during combat in the Falklands War and the Operation Mole Cricket 19 in Lebanon. Its adaptability has kept it in service over newer designs like the AIM-95 Agile and short-range air-to-air missiles were intended to replace it.

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