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The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile developed by the United States Navy at China Lake, California, in the 1950s, and subsequently adopted by the United States Air Force. Since its entry into service in 1956, the Sidewinder has proved to be an enduring international success, and its latest variants are still standard equipment in most western-aligned air forces.[3] The Soviet K-13, a reverse-engineered copy of the AIM-9, was also widely adopted by a number of nations.

 After looking at advanced short range missile designs during the AIM portion of the ACEVAL/AIMVAL Joint Test and Evaluation at Nellis AFB in the 1974–78 timeframe, the Air Force and Navy agreed on the need for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile AMRAAM. However, agreement over development of an Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile ASRAAM was problematic and disagreement between the Air Force and Navy over design concepts (Air Force had developed AIM-82 and Navy had flight-tested Agile and flown it in AIMVAL). Congress eventually insisted the services work on a joint effort resulting in the AIM-9M, thereby compromising without exploring the improved off boresight and kinematic capability potential offered by Agile. In 1985, the Soviet Union did field a short range missile (SRM) (AA-11 Archer/R-73) that was very similar to Agile. At that point, the Soviet Union took the lead in SRM technology and correspondingly fielded improved Infrared Counter Measures (IRCM) to defeat or reduce the effectiveness of the latest Sidewinders. With the reunification of Germany and improved relations in the aftermath of the Soviet Union, the West became aware of how potent both the AA-11 and IRCM were and SRM requirements were readdressed.
The first guided launch of an AIM-9X occurred in 1999 from a VX-9 F/A-18C and shot down a QF-4 Drone

For a brief period in the late 1980s, an ASRAAM effort led by a European consortium was in play under a Memorandum Of Agreement with the United States in which AMRAAM development would be led by the US and ASRAAM by the Europeans. The UK worked with the aft end of the ASRAAM and Germany developed the seeker (Germany had first-hand experience improving the Sidewinder seeker of the AIM-9J/AIM-9F). By 1990, technical and funding issues had stymied ASRAAM and the program appeared stalled, so in light of the threat of AA-11 and improved IRCM, the US embarked on determining requirements for AIM-9X as a counter to both the AA-11 and improved IRCM features. The first draft of the requirement was ready by 1991 and the primary competitors were Raytheon and Hughes. Later, the UK resolved to revive the ASRAAM development and selected Hughes to provide the seeker technology in the form of a high off-boresight capable Focal Plane Array. However, the UK did not choose to improve the turning kinematic capability of ASRAAM to compete with AA-11. As part of the AIM-9X program, the US conducted a foreign cooperative test of the ASRAAM seeker to evaluate its potential, and an advanced version featuring improved kinematics was proposed as part of the AIM-9X competition. In the end, the Hughes-evolved Sidewinder design, featuring virtually the same British funded seeker as used by ASRAAM, was selected as the winner.

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