Italy signs up for AIM-9X air-to-air missile

Italy has moved to acquire Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-9X weapon systems from the US following the signing by the Italian Air Force of a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) with the US Government, it can be revealed.

The event, reported on February 2 by US naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), took place on November 19, 2021, shortly after representatives from PMA-259 and Raytheon Missiles & Defense presented an AIM-9X II/II+ classified capabilities briefing to Italian Headquarters Air Force Staff and F-35 Lightning II pilots.

aIM-9X
An AIM-9X Sidewinder missile shoots off the rail off a US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon over the test range at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in 2019. This was the first time this AIM-9X was used against a QF-16 aerial target. US Air Force/Tech Sgt John Raven

According to a NAVAIR release, the LOA consists of 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”, according to NAVAIR.