Raytheon has chalked up the first international sale of its new AIM-9X, the latest version of the Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

The weapon has been ordered by the Republic of Korea Air Force for use on its newly ordered F-15Ks.

It is already in production for the US armed forces, and the first was delivered four months ahead of schedule on 1 May.

Korea selected the Boeing F-15K to fulfil its F-X fighter requirement, replacing ageing F-4 Phantoms. South Korea will acquire 40 F-15Ks, to be delivered from 2005. Two aircraft will be delivered in 2005, 10 in 2006, 16 in 2007 and 12 in 2008.

The aircraft came second to the French Dassault Rafale in the first phase of Korea's evaluation. But when the Korean Defence Ministry announced on 27 March it would embark on the second round of evaluation because the cheaper Rafale had "failed to beat the F-15K by more than 3%," Boeing was widely seen to have gained the upper hand.

Dassault has claimed that the bidding procedures were unfair and has launched legal action to overturn the decision.

The F-15K is an advanced derivative of the USAF's elderly but still effective F-15E Strike Eagle, still regarded by many as being the world's most capable multi-role fighter, despite its very high price.

The Korean Eagles will feature an advanced electronically scanned radar antenna, and a new advanced display core processor which forms the heart of a significantly updated avionics suite.

Boeing worked hard to maximise value for money, shaving $239 million dollars from the original price of $4.47 billion, and increasing the value of offsets from 65% to 84%.


Korea's selection of the type reflects the continuing political importance of the relationship between Korea and the US, while the F-15K's ability to carry the latest US weapons (including AIM-9X and AMRAAM) was also of critical importance.

Ten overseas nations have expressed interest in the AIM-9X and Raytheon has predicted that some 5,000 of the 15,000 missiles it expects to build will be for export customers. Raytheon expect and have planned for an 18-year production run.

Source: Flight Daily News