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New missile pushes F-22 ahead of fight

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Patterson, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Russell Taylor, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, does checks on an AIM-9X missile before being loaded onto an F-22 Raptor, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 19, 2017. Before the AIM-9X, the F-22 had the AIM-9M which dates back to the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Amanda Dole)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Patterson, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Russell Taylor, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, does checks on an AIM-9X missile before being loaded onto an F-22 Raptor, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 19, 2017. Before the AIM-9X, the F-22 had the AIM-9M which dates back to the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Amanda Dole)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Lewis, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, finishes loading an AIM-9X missile onto an F-22 Raptor, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 19, 2017. The AIM-9X is a newer, more versatile weapon that was recently made compatible with the F-22. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Amanda Dole)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Lewis, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, finishes loading an AIM-9X missile onto an F-22 Raptor, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 19, 2017. The AIM-9X is a newer, more versatile weapon that was recently made compatible with the F-22. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Amanda Dole)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Lewis, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, prepares an AIM-9X missile to be loaded onto an F-22 Raptor, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 19, 2017. Compared to the older AIM-9M, the AIM-9X maneuvers easier, picks up heat signatures better and is a safer weapon overall. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Amanda Dole)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Lewis, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization lead crew member, prepares an AIM-9X missile to be loaded onto an F-22 Raptor, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., April 19, 2017. Compared to the older AIM-9M, the AIM-9X maneuvers easier, picks up heat signatures better and is a safer weapon overall. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Amanda Dole)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va --

In today’s war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, being accurate and effective are both key components in keeping Americans and their allies safe.  

To accommodate this, the F-22 recently switched from AIM-9M to AIM-9X munitions, as the AIM-9M is an older missile, dating back to the Vietnam War, and has many countermeasures.

“The AIM-9X has newer updated technology,” said Master Sgt. Theodore Winnen, 1st Maintenance Group weapons standardization superintendent. “It really gives the pilots a lot more capability, as far as tracking targets at further distances and being able to take them out, where the AIM-9M is a lot more limited in what it can do.”

According to  Maj. Brent, 1st Fighter Wing acting director of staff, one of the main limitations of the AIM-9M is the range of sight it has -- that’s where the AIM-9X really excels.

“The 9X brings high, off-board sight capability that allows the seeker or missile to ‘see’ targets well outside the sight abilities of the 9M,” Brent said. “Our pilots are extremely pleased with the missiles performance, and it gives them a new capability they did not have before.”

With the AIM-9X, pilots are able to identify if it can be fired or not simply by the certain sounds produced. While using the AIM-9M, it is difficult for pilots to determine if the missile can properly fire due to the many variables that can affect the weapon.

Other features that AIM-9X missiles includes are the ability to maneuver more easily, built to require less maintenance and its improved camera, which allows the missile to more accurately pick up and track enemy targets.