Following political lobbying by the USA, the Australian defence ministry is to allow the Hughes AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile (AAM) to be offered for the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) next-generation short-range AAM requirement.

The RAAF had initially discounted the AIM-9X on the basis that the missile would not be available to meet its required in-service date. Two AAMs - the Matra BAe Dynamics Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and the Rafael Python 4 - were the two original missiles in contention.

The defence ministry issued a restricted request for tender to the three bidders on 27 August. The AIM-9X bid is being led by the US Navy. The role of Hughes in the competition is complicated by its teaming arrangement with Matra BAe. The ASRAAM has a Hughes imaging infra-red seeker similar to that on the AIM-9X.

If chosen, the AIM-9X Block 1 production missiles would enter service with the RAAF, the USN and US Air Force inventories simultaneously.

Source: Flight International