The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range, heat-seeking air-to-air missile available for the AV-42C and F/A-26B to utilize. The F-45A has its own variant of the AIM-9, the AIM-9+ Sidewinder, which has various improvements over the original AIM-9's design. It is designed for close-range air-to-air combat, when AIM-120s would be impractical to utilize. It has strong maneuverability and is capable of tracking and homing in on a target's ambient heat-signature, even from the front or sides.
The AIM-9 has a number of deployment options that affect the behavior of the targeting reticle, listed below:
- Caged - The missile's targeting reticle points forward at all times, much like the AIM-120's own.
- Uncaged - The targeting reticle circles around the HUD and snaps to the first prominent heat signature it detects.
- Vertical Scan - Similar to Uncaged; instead of circling the center of the HUD, the reticle bobs up and down along the center vertically, snapping to the first heat signature it detects. Useful for dogfights.
- Head-Track - Requires the HMCS to be active. The missile's reticle points in the direction the player is looking in, allowing the missile to effectively target enemies at the rear flanks of the deploying aircraft.
- Trig-Uncage - Functions the same as Caged mode until the trigger is pressed, at which point the missile's seeker swaps to Uncage mode in order to find targets. The missile can then be fired by pressing the weapon switch button.
It should be noted that the AIM-9 can be mounted to the outer hard points of the F/A-26B in sets of up to 3 each, giving the pilot up to 6 missiles across only 2 hard points. The AIM-9 can additionally be mounted on other hard points as well, allowing for the setup of a lightweight air-to-air payload if budget is an issue. The AIM-9 is a short range infrared missile, used in dog-fighting and pop-up attacks when radar-guided missiles are no longer practical. When the missile is selected, it will emit a low tone when not targeting a heat signature. Once it identifies a heat signature, its tone will increase; a stronger tone designates a more reliable lock. A predicted intercept point will also be displayed on the HUD, leading the target aircraft when you have obtained a strong lock. The missile has much higher maneuverability than other missiles like the AIM-120, letting it maneuver more sharply to hit its target. It is the cheapest of the Air-to-Air missile family, making it very economical for low budget missions. While the missile can fire and track at extreme angles, aligning your aircraft closer to the predicted impact point and closing range will always improve results. Most fighters are equipped with countermeasure dispensers with flares for evading heat-seeking missiles. The AIM-9 is particularly vulnerable to this, being easily "distracted" by flares launched from the defending aircraft. This can be counteracted somewhat efficiently by launching the missile closer to the target.
Warning: Please take care when firing any IR missile in close proximity to friendly units. The IR missiles will reliably track whichever heat source is targeted, but if a friendly aircraft passes in front of the missile, the missile's seeker could become confused and target them instead, especially if their heat signature is stronger. Stick to your Cannons if you are dogfighting near allies.
- AIM-9+ Sidewinder: This variant is available only on the F-45A. It is an in-between to the AIM-9 and the AIRS-T in terms of range, accuracy and maneuverability. It is mountable on the wing pylons in sets of 1 and the outer internal bays in sets of 2 for a total of 10 missiles.