AIM-9G Sidewinder

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The AIM-9G Sidewinder missile (scale is approximate)

The AIM-9G is part of the AIM-9 Sidewinder family of short-range infrared-guided air-to-air missiles designed by the US during the early 1950s. The Golf variant improves on the previous Echo model by heaving more reliable electronics which allows it to sustain 18G loads compared to the 10G of the Echo. The lock-on range, speed, and launch range remain the same as with the Echo. However, the Golf model has an increased weight at 88 kg and a reduced explosive mass of only 2.76 kg. As with all Sidewinder variants pre-Lima model they are still rear IR aspect guided.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

General info

The AIM-9G Sidewinder is a rear-aspect IR-guided short-range air-to-air missile. It functions similarly to previous variants of the AIM-9 but with more reliable avionics which allow it to sustain higher G-loads.

Effective damage

AIM-9G uses a newer continuous rod warhead with an improved proximity fuse, this allows less explosives to be used while increasing all around damage. The missile usually guarantees a one shot kill at most angles due to the continuous rod warhead.

Comparison with analogues

Give a comparative description of missiles that have firepower equal to this weapon.

Usage in battles

The AIM-9G is primarily a short-range air-to-air missile which requires a rear aspect IR signature to lock on to a target. The Golf models have an improved acquisition envelope making target tracking easier and at steeper angles. The missile is also able to sustain higher Gs which increases horizontal engagement hit ratios and target lock. As a short-range missile, recommended rear engagement distance is around 1-5 km, any closer launches may not give adequate time for the missile to track and manoeuvre. With horizontal engagement, lock-on distance is around 1-2 km depending on the approach angle.

When locking on, ensure that the target track is not a friendly or the sun, as the IR missile cannot differentiate between heat signatures. The most ideal engagement is a rear aspect as the enemy's engine will provide a perfect source of thermal energy for the seeker. The AIM-9G can handle offset horizontal engagements better then previous models due to the higher G load and improved seeker envelope. However you will still have difficulty acquiring the thermal signature of an aircraft unless you are within 1.5-2 km, at this shorter distance the heavier missile may not be able to manoeuvre fast enough or acquire the target.

Pros and cons


  • Higher max G-load at 18G
  • Improved acquisition envelope


  • Heavier missile at 88 kg compared to previous models
  • Reduced explosive mass at 2.76 kg
  • Same range with little improvements to avionics


As the United States Navy improved on their initial Sidewinder model (AIM-9B) to the AIM-9D, another feature that the China Lake development team, headed by Chuck Smith, wanted to introduce into the missile was the Sidewinder Expanded Acquisition Mode (SEAM).[1] SEAM allowed the Sidewinder to follow the aircraft's radar search pattern and target acquisition.[2] Being able to seek around a 25 degree angle in a circular scan, the Sidewinder would have a better chance of acquiring targets than earlier models that just aimed straight ahead. This feature, along with some solid-state module upgrades, were incorporated in the US Navy's next Sidewinder model, the AIM-9G. The improvement was sufficient that the initial order of 5,000 AIM-9D seekers was cut at 1,850 units and the rest were built in AIM-9G seeker specifications.[1] A total of 2,120 AIM-9G missiles would be built by Raytheon between 1970 to 1972.[2] As the AIM-9G consisted upgrades to the seeker and electrical components, it did not differ externally from the AIM-9D variant.

A F-4J Phantom II from VF-96, attached to the USS Constellation (CVA-64), equipped with either AIM-9D or AIM-9Gs (their external features are identical).

The AIM-9G would see use alongside the AIM-9D as the US Navy's choice for IR missile during the Vietnam War. A total of fourteen aircraft were claimed to have been downed by AIM-9Gs fired from a US Navy F-4J Phantom II plane, seven of which were MiG-17s and the other seven MiG-21s.[3] During Operation Linebackers I and II in 1972, the US Navy recorded a high 46% hit rate with their AIM-9G, which is credited both to the missile design and USN fighter pilot training from the Navy's Fighters Weapon School, also known as TOPGUN.[4] The United States Air Force attempted to obtain AIM-9Gs from the US Navy due to poor experience with their AIM-9 Sidewinders models B, E, and J. However, the US Navy's AIM-9s were not compatible with US Air Force's Sidewinder launchers due to the differences in cooling mechanisms (the US Navy's Sidewinder cooled by a nitrogen gas container installed on the launcher that the USAF did not have).[1]

While the AIM-9G was thought to have been the peak of the Sidewinder's capability at the time, several engineers at Philco-Ford (some of which helped create the first Sidewinder at China Lake) were brought in to continue improving the AIM-9 reliability, and one proposal was to convert all remaining missile electronic components to solid-state.[1] The AIM-9G converted to an all solid-state technology, as well as an increased seeker tracking rate of 20 degrees/second, was designated the AIM-9H. This was introduced into the Navy in 1972 and 7,700 units would be produced between 1972-1974 by Philco-Ford and Raytheon.[2]

Projects after the Vietnam War to continue improving the AIM-9s led to using the AIM-9H as the basis of the improvements. China Lake started the program as the AIM-9H Product Improvement Package (PIP). The United States Air Force, also seeking a missile improvement from their AIM-9E and AIM-9J models of the Sidewinder, became involved with the US Navy's AIM-9H PIP under direction the Pentagon. The variety of improvements inputted by both service branches led to the missile that would be designated as the AIM-9L.[5]


Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.

See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the article about the variant of the weapon;
  • references to approximate analogues by other nations and research trees.

External links

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Westrum 2013, p.187
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Parsch 2008
  3. McCarthy 2009, p.148-157
  4. Moulton 2013, p.66-68
  5. Westrum 2013, p.191
  • McCarthy, Donald J. Jr. MiG Killers, A Chronology of U.S. Air Victories in Vietnam 1965–1973. Specialty Press, 2009.
  • Moulton, Richard. "Review: CLASHES: AIR COMBAT OVER NORTH VIETNAM 1965–1972" The Royal Canadian Air Force Journal, vol. 2, issue no.4, Fall 2013, pg. 66-68.
  • Parsch, Andreas. "AIM-9." Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Designation-Systems.Net, 09 July 2008, Website. Accessed on 20 Nov. 2021 (Archive).
  • Westrum, Ron. Sidewinder; Creative Missile Development at China Lake. Naval Institute Press, 30 Sep. 2013.

AAM  AIM-7C Sparrow · AIM-7D Sparrow · AIM-7E Sparrow · AIM-7E-2 Sparrow · AIM-7F Sparrow
  AIM-9B Sidewinder · AIM-9C Sidewinder · AIM-9D Sidewinder · AIM-9E Sidewinder · AIM-9G Sidewinder · AIM-9J Sidewinder · AIM-9L Sidewinder · AIM-9P Sidewinder
  ATAS (AIM-92)
AGM  AGM-12B Bullpup · AGM-12C Bullpup · AGM-22 · AGM-65A · AGM-65B · AGM-65D · AGM-114B Hellfire · AGM-114K Hellfire II · BGM-71D TOW-2
SAM  FIM-92 Stinger · MIM146
AAM  AIM-9B FGW.2 Sidewinder · R-60MK
AGM  HOT-1 · HOT-2 TOW · HOT-3 · PARS 3 LR
SAM  Roland
AAM  9M39 Igla · R-3R · R-3S · R-13M · R-13M1 · R-23R · R-23T · R-24R · R-24T · R-60 · R-60M
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SAM  Type 91
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AAM  Aspide-1A
SAM  Mistral SATCP
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AGM  9M14-2 Malyutka-2 · AS-20 Nord · AS-30 Nord · AS-30L Nord · HOT-1 · HOT-2 TOW · HOT-3
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ATGM  Rbs 55 · Rbs 56
SAM  Rbs 70
AAM  Shafrir · Shafrir 2
  AAM = Air-to-Air Missile   AGM = Air-to-Ground Missile   ATGM = Anti-Tank Guided Missile (Ground mounts)   SAM = Surface-to-Air Missile