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MQ-9 Reaper drone fires live AIM-9X air-to-air missile at a target drone

A USAF MQ-9 Reaper drone successfully targeted and hit a BQM-167 target drone with a live AIM-9X Block II. The target drone simulated an incoming cruise missile. The crew received off-board information, found and tracked the target, then maneuvered to validly employ the AIM-9X against the surrogate cruise missile.
A USAF MQ-9 Reaper armed with an AIM-9X assigned to 556th test and evaluation squadron sits on the ramp at Creech AFB, Nev. USAF photo by SrA Haley Stevens

The MQ-9 Reaper, assigned to 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron, and the ground-based cockpit, were connected to the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) network as part of ABMS’ Onramp 2. During Onramp 2, the Department of the Air Force, as well as the US northern Command and US Space Command, conducted a field test of ABMS network. ABMS is a complex system that connects all the assets deployed on the battlefield and allows multiple joint forces to easily and rapidly collect and process information. Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) provided critical data to the MQ-9 and crew for timely and accurate target information.

This truly was a combined effort to make this demonstration a success. While early in development, this successful test opens the door to further explore integration opportunities the aircraft and cockpits could provide to JADC2, as well as counterair capabilities and roles beyond the typical counter-terrorism role assumed by the MQ-9.

Said Lt. Col. Michael Chmielewski, commander, 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron.

Source: USAF photo by SrA Haley Stevens
The AIM-9X Block II differs from the classic AIM-9 in multiple factors, including increased range and better technology. Although the exact range is classified, it can be said that the missile must be fired fairly close to the target. This suggests that the US Air Force is planning the use of drones in anti-cruise missile defence.
This is the second test launch of an AIM-9X Sidewinder since the first air-to-air hit, which occurred in November 2017.

Matteo Tivan

Matteo is a writer for AviationHub365, who lives in Northern Italy. Whilst he enjoys all types aviation, he mainly focuses on military news and analysis. Matteo enjoys flying RC aircraft and going to airshows to capture images of aircraft.

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