RAYTHEON HAS revealed a radical missile design offered to meet the Pentagon's AIM-9X Sidewinder-replacement requirement, while admitting that it is also working on larger-diameter versions of its missile.

Raytheon has married its rotate-to-view (RTV) imaging infra-red seeker to the Box Office airframe. The seeker is a radical departure from the traditional infra-red seeker aperture dome.

The Department of Defense originally insisted that the AIM-9X be capable of using existing Sidewinder motors. This limited the diameter of the missile designs being offered - and, as a result, their target-engagement capability.

While the Raytheon design of Sidewinder diameter, Don Kenne, AIM-9X programme manager, confirms that the company is also examining increased motor-diameter designs.

He declines to comment on whether Raytheon has submitted a second bid based around a larger-diameter rocket motor with an increased kinematic capability. Some sources have suggested that the larger diameter missile may be the Box Office 3.

Raytheon is competing with Hughes, which is offering two designs, one based on a US airframe design. The other, a derivative of the British Aerospace Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM), is substantially larger in diameter than the Sidewinder.

The ASRAAM P3I, as the bid is dubbed, differs from the missile being procured for the Royal Air Force in having thrust-vector control for improved manoeuvrability.

Kenne says that the RTV front-end reduces the radar cross-section of the carrier aircraft, with drag differing little from that of a traditional spherical dome.

He also says that the RTV design, provides a considerable off-bore sight look angle, for the seeker's 512 x 512 focal-plane array.

Source: Flight International