FA-50PH ‘Sidewinder’ missiles delivery starts this year

The delivery of the AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air missiles, which will be the primary armament of the South Korean FA-50 “Fighting Eagle” light-interim fighter aircraft, will start within this year, Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Wednesday.

“They (Sidewinder missiles) will be delivered within the year,” he said to the Philippine News Agency when asked for updates on the weapons project.

Once the missiles arrive, Andolong said the FA-50s will definitely have more “fangs” to use in protecting the country’s airspace aside from its 20mm automatic cannon.

A Notice to Proceed was issued to Diehl Raytheon of Germany on August 31, 2017. The “Sidewinder” contract is worth PHP1,016,734,088.

The DND spokesperson declined to give the specific number of the missiles that will be acquired for security reasons.

But he said the “weapons are sufficient for all of the country’s FA-50s.” Andolong earlier said all AIM-9s to be acquired are “all live rounds and fresh from the factory”, meaning all of its sensors, rocket motors and warheads are brand-new.

The AIM-9, which was developed by the US Navy in the 1950s, is one of the world’s most reliable and successful air-to-air missiles. It utilizes infrared homing for guidance and tracking and has a top speed of Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound.

The missile’s warhead weighs around 20 pounds and it has has a length of nine feet and 11 inches. PNA