|Location:||National Cold War Exhibition|
Development of the Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missile, (AAM), began in 1949 with the formation of a team led by Dr McLean in China Lake USA. The team aimed to produce the World’s first Infra-Red (IR) homing missile. Enormous technical difficulties were overcome and in 1951, Philco was awarded the contract for the IR homing head.
The first Sidewinder was successfully fired on 11 September 1953 reaching IOC (Initial Operational Capability) by May 1956. Based on a simple design, the low cost and wide compatibility of Sidewinder, made it a huge seller world-wide.
Almost 81,000 AIM-9A & AIM-9Bs were built, an indication of the success of the missile world-wide. The missile was also built by a European consortium which fitted a new seeker head in the 1960s. The new head greatly improved the performance of Sidewinder in adverse weather conditions.