AIM-9X Comes to Kunsan

With the arrival of 22 F-16 Block 40 fighters in January as part of an aircraft swap with Eielson, AFB, Alaska, the 80th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan AB, South Korea, got more than just the aircraft. It also received a potent new dogfighting missile: the AIM-9X Sidewinder, say base officials. “Combined with the Block 40 F-16s we received from Alaska, these missiles add an even greater combat capability to our mission at Kunsan,” said Capt. Nicolas Evans, chief of weapons and tactics for the unit. The AIM-9X features an advanced infrared seeker and can engage at greater off-boresight angles than previous Sidewinder variants. It is compatible with the recently integrated Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System. Evans said it will allow the squadron’s pilots to engage enemy aircraft “even faster than before,” thereby increasing their own survivability. The Air Force exchanged Kunsan’s F-16 Block 30 aircraft that didn’t carry the AIM-9X with Eielson’s Block 40s in order to rotate the newer capabilities forward in the Pacific and use the older Block 30s as dedicated aggressor aircraft in air-combat training. (USAF report by SrA. Steven Doty)