The US State Department has approved the sale of the AIM-9X, the new US-made heat-seeking air-to-air missile, to the Netherlands.
The $117 million contract was approved on May 26, 2022 the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency reports.
According to the press release, the Government of the Netherlands inquired about 23 Aim-9X Block II and 43 AIM-9X Block II+ missiles plus one Tactical Guidance unit and cases for them. Later, the inquiry was supplemented by an additional 72 Block II and 43 Block II+ AIM9Xes.
The missile, manufactured by Raytheon, is the latest iteration of the AIM-9 Sidewinder. It was developed in the 1990s as a response to the latest generation of supermaneuverable fighter jets, significantly improving the maneuverability and short-range performance of the original Sidewinder.
When paired with proper aiming equipment, such as a helmet-mounted sight, the AIM-9X has a 360-degree engagement capability, meaning that fifth-generation fighter jets such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II can attack targets in the rear.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) is currently transitioning from the modernized General Dynamics F-16AM fighter jets it acquired in the late 1970s towards the F-35A.
While the transition has not been without its problems, as of mid-2022 the service operates 15 F-35s, and its F-16s are gradually being sold off to private contractors.