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Philippine Air Force to Get Sidewinder for FA-50

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) expects to take delivery of AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, which will be the primary armament of the South Korean FA-50 “Fighting Eagle” light-interim fighter aircraft, later this year. The Sidewinder contract is worth PHP1,016,734,088 (USD 19.7 million).

The PAF didn’t provide the specific number of the missiles that will be acquired. But a spokesman says the “weapons are sufficient for all of the country’s FA-50s.” All AIM-9s to be acquired are “all live rounds and fresh from the factory”.

The Sidewinder missile uses homing device for guidance and tracking and has a top speed of Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound. The missile’s warhead weighs around 20 pounds and has a length of nine feet and 11 inches.

As of May 2017, 12 Korean-made FA-50 fighter planes have beefed up the air defense capability of the Philippine Air Force. The Philippines is reportedly considering acquisition of a further 12 FA-50 jets, according to official sources.

The Raytheon made AIM-9 Sidewinder is a supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile, which has a high-explosive warhead and an infrared heat-seeking guidance system. The Sidewinder was developed by the US Navy for fleet air defense and was adapted by the US Air Force for fighter aircraft use. Early versions of the missile were extensively used in the Southeast Asia conflict.

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