Network member Ned Conger sent this one along today that caught me by surprise.
Turns out the Pentagon has been tweaking the software a bit on the AIM-9X Sidewinder to hit ground targets. Strategy Page reported it but our boy Steve Trimble had it as well -- and the StratPage entry calls it the AIM-7x -- oops... From Flight Global:
The modification allows the same AIM-9X to strike both air and ground targets. Jeff White, Raytheon's business development manager for AIM-9X, declines to describe the modification in detail, but says it involves only software changes. The AIM-9X infrared seeker, proximity fuse and blast/fragmentation warhead remain unchanged.Anyway, seems as if Raytheon has done some rejiggering to allow the F-15C (and F-22) a ground attack role with its compliment of side-shooting Sidewinders. The combination of the helment-mounted cuing systems and highly advanced heat seakers allow the air-to-air missile to plink hot targets on the ground as well.
During a 23 September Gulf of Mexico test, a US Air Force F-15C fired the air-to-surface AIM-9X and hit a speeding "cigar boat", a type commonly used by drug smugglers. "The missile went right through the boat," says White.
The F-15C test follows a previous shot by an F-16 at a similar target, which also scored a hit on the boat, he adds.
Sounds like a darn good idea. I'd be interested to learn what the damage yield is with one of those puppies. A 20 pound blast frag warhead doesn't seem like much to me, but it sounds like it could be effective against vehicles. And after all, the AGM-114 Hellfire has a nearly 30 pound warhead and has no problem taking out HVTs.