What Is a Sidewinder Missile?


Quick Answer

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile that was created by the U.S. Navy in 1953 and put into service in 1956. It can be launched from helicopter gunships and other aircraft, can reach the speed of Mach 2.5 and has an operational range of up to 22 miles.

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Full Answer

The name Sidewinder was chosen after a venomous rattlesnake because both the snake and the missile use infrared sensors to detect targets. The Sidewinder series branched off into several versions including the AIM-9C that is a semi-active radar homing missile. The Sidewinder was cloned by the Soviet Union under the name Atoll.

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