Procurement: Sidewinder Sells On Price


May 26,2008: Israel has ordered some U.S. AIM-9M air-to-air missiles, despite the fact the Israel manufactures a similar (and many say superior) missile, the Python. Israel is doing it to save money, because the Python costs more than the 9M.

Although over half a century old, the Sidewinder has been the most effective air-to-air missile ever produced. The first Sidewinder (AIM-9B) was 9.3 feet long, weighed 156 pounds and had a max range of five kilometers . The most current one (AIM-9X), half a century later . is 9.5 feet long, weighs 191 pounds and has a max range of over 20 kilometers. The latest version can go after the target from all angles, while the AIM-9B could only be used from directly behind the target. The AIM-9X is about seven times more likely to bring down the target than the AIM-9B. The 9X entered service in 2000, but the older 9M is nearly as accurate, although more expensive to upgrade.

Israel began developing the Python shortly after the Sidewinder first appeared. Ever since, Israel has exported the Python to nations that were willing to pay a little more for a "slightly better Sidewinder." But to achieve that advantage, the Python grew larger than the Sidewinder. The current Python 5 weighs 228 pounds and is 9.6 feet long. The AIM-9M weighs 190 pounds and is 9.3 feet long. The Python costs about 20 percent more.


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