Find a Security Clearance Job!


AAM Air-to-Air Missiles

Operational Programs

GURVORussian Russian RussianNATOU.S.
Sys IndexOKB #OKB Nameothernamename
K-5RS-1 K-51AlkaliAA-1
K-5MRS-2 AlkaliAA-1
K-8R-8 AnabAA-3
K-9R-9Izdeliye 90K-155AwlAA-4
K-13R-13 AtollAA-2
K-13R-3 Atoll AA-2
K-13MR-13M1? Adv. AtollAA-2b
..R-3P R-13PAdv. AtollAA-2a
K-23R-23 Apex AA-7
R-24 Apex AA-7
K-27R-27 Alamo AA-10
..R-30 AnabAA-3
K-33R-33 Amos AA-9
K-37R-37(Vympel)RVB-BD ArrowAA-13
K-40R-40(Molniya)Acrid AA-6
K-40R-46Acrid AA-6
K-60R-60Izdeliye 62Aphid AA-8
..R-73 RVV-MDArcher AA-11
..R-73M RVV-MDAA-11B
K-77R-77 RVV-AE / Adder AA-12
..R-77M RVV-SDAA-12B
K-80R-4 AshAA-5
K-80R-80 R-4P / R-4TAshAA-5
..R-98 AA-3-2 AnabAA-3

Developmental Projects

K-5P R- K-50-
K-6 R- K-6V-
K-7 R- K-75-
K-9-51 R- PR-38-
K-15 R- -
K-30R-Izdeliye 300 K-MDAA-
K-44 R- -
K-74R-Izdeliye 760AA-
K-88 R--
K-100R-72 Izdeliye 172RVV-L / KS-172 AAM-L
..R-Izdeliye 180AA-
.. R-Izdeliye 810-
.. R-SNARS-250-
.. R-G-300 Golden Eagle-
.. R-Storm (project)-
.. R-9M100-
.. R-RVV-AE-PD -

The designations of these missiles followed a quite consistent approach. The overall weapon system uses 'K' (Komplex) as the designation; however, the designation of the missile uses 'R' (Roketa) at the beginning. Most designations of air-to-air missiles in Russia use a tail mark to distinguish the guidance type. For example, 'II' indicates the infrared (IR) guidance type; however, 'P' indicates the radar guidance type. Therefore, 'P-40P' indicates the radar guidance version of the P-40 series, and P-40II indicates the infrared version in the series.

Anti-Air Warfare [AAW] is the actions used to destroy or reduce the enemy air and missile threat to an acceptable 1evel. It includes such measures as the use of interceptors, bombers, antiaircraft guns, surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles, and electronic attack and the destruction of an air or missile threat both before and after it is launched. Other measures used to minimize the effects of hostile air action are cover, concealment, dispersion, deception (including electronic), and mobility. The primary purpose of AAW is to gain and maintain whatever degree of air superiority is required; this permits the conduct of operations without prohibitive interference by opposing air and missile forces. AAW's other purpose is force protection.

Air-to-air combat missiles began with several countries developing unguided rockets such as the US Mighty Mouse and Zuni, The Germans were developing guided AAWs by the end of World War II and Western analysts assumed that much of this technology was picked up by the Soviets and resulted in the deployment of the AA-1 in the early 1950's. The AA-1 had all-weather capability, was first deployed on the MIG-17, was still in service on several airplane types in several coutries two decades later.

Air-to-air missile systems would have utility as long as interceptor aircraft are important components of Soviet air defense. By 1959 information was becoming available which indicates that air-to-air missiles may now be deployed, but their specific characteristics had not been determined. There was little evidence on Soviet development of such missiles, however, with the exception of that reported by German returnees who described early Soviet development work on the AA-1 (Soviet designation ShM) during 1952.

A feature of Soviet air-to-air missiles was that they were created individually, in fact, for every type of carrier aircraft (missile carrier). Hence - such a variety of types of these products, virtually coinciding with the number of types of aircraft. The authors of the research offer a thorough - at times even meticulous (in a good sense!) - an analysis of the evolution of the organizational structures engaged in creating air-to-air missiles for airplanes and a very detailed description of the constructive and tactical-technical features of these products. "It is known that in the first post-war years the development of a number of missile systems in our country was carried out not without borrowing captured German models. In the absence of successful German-controlled air-to-air missiles, the Germans had nothing to copy, and until the end of the 1950s.

Soviet AAMs presented an impressive array. It was evident that the AA-2 was a development based on the US Sidewinder. The rest of the AAM family displays a wide variety of configuration types and weapon sizes and are obviously intended to cover a broad spectrum of missions. Almost all of the Soviet AAH's are produced with a radar-guided version and a heat-seeker version to provide all-weather capability and versatility of operation. The only missile not retained in this inventory was the AA-4 wing-control missile that was shown in 1961 on the Flipper airplane - neither the Flipper nor the AA-4 entered the inventory.

Unlike the Korean War, when air-to-air combat and air defense was fought with essentially the same weapons and tactics as was used in World War II, the Vietnam air war was fought with the guided missile. By the end of the war, missile technology and employment dominated both friendly and enemy AAW doctrine and accounted for a majority of American air-to-air combat victories.

As the Soviet Union fell behind the West in the fields of electronics and computational power, their ability to field advanced radar systems declined. As a result, the Soviets increasingly relied on more reliable, easier to design, computationally simpler, and tougher-to-jam IR systems, which surprised Western intelligence agencies. The MiG-29s IR system was integrated with the improved IR missile, known as the AA-11 Archer, which not only had the all-aspect feature of the latest Sidewinders, but it also had off-boresight capability.

Along with the rest of its defense sector, Russia's airborne weapons industry suffered from absent investment and a dearth of state orders for the two decades after the Cold War. Export sales kept production lines active, and from the late 1990s and into the next decade, international orders sustained a reasonable workload.

Russia's missile enterprises - unified under the Tactical Missile Corporation (TMC) - face an ill-defined future. Export sales began dropping off as major customers like China and, to a degree, India found alternative sources of supply. The recent customers for Russian combat aircraft like Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam or Venezuela were not big enough to fill the gap left by China and India.

But there was a revival of Russia's procurement plans, thanks to the Sukhoi Su-35S and next-generation Su-57 / T-50 (PAK-FA) fighter programs. The 48 advanced Su-35S jets announced in 2009 were the first new-build aircraft to be ordered for the Russian fighter force since the 1990s. More Su-35Ss are likely to follow, bridging the gap until the Su-57 reaches service. The expansion of the Su-35S force and the resulting potential for export sales, plus the promise of the Su-57 meant that for the first time in many years Russia's weapon industry had plausible prospects.

The two primary air-to-air weapons from the TMC are improved variant of missiles with design roots in the 1980s. Revealed in 2009, the RVV-SD (Raketa Vozdukh-Vozdukh-Srednaya Dalnost, medium-range AAM) and RVV-MD (Raketa Vozdukh-Vozdukh-Malaya Dalnost, short-range AAM) are the latest developments of the well-known RVV-AE/R-77 (AA-12 'Adder') and R-73 (AA-11 'Archer') missiles, respectively. Products of the Vympel Design Bureau, they are staged improvements of the original designs rather than radical enhancements. Current or future Russian orders are likely to be built to RVV-SD and RVV-MD standards.

  • Several aerodynamic refinements were made to the BVR-capable RVV-SD. The rear section has a tapered 'boat tail' shape and the active radar seeker dome is longer and more pointed. Although its propulsion system is unchanged, the revised airframe configuration and flight control software increases range to at least 110 km. The RVV-SD has an upgraded inertial platform in its guidance and control section and a modernised seeker with improved algorithms. At its 2009 debut the RVV-SD was described by Vympel as a "proposal", so the production status of the missile remains unconfirmed.

  • The RVV-MD IR-guided dogfight missile introduced several performance improvements but not to the level predicted for most preceding R-73 upgrade concepts. Three main enhancements consist of: a two-color IR seeker, an expanded seeker field-of-view of 60 and an extended in-flight standby time of six hours.

  • Vympel designers have also spoken of further AAM developments based on the original RVV-AE/R-77 and R-73 designs. This includes a BVR missile referred to as Izdeliye 180 with a revised airframe design that replaces the lattice rear fins with conventional tail fins. Vympel said the new fins lessen drag and reduce weight by removing the heavy actuators needed for the old control surfaces. The missile will be fitted with an improved, higher-speed datalink and an inertial guidance system for mid-course navigation. The rocket motor is an improved dual-pulse engine with a maximum burn of 100 seconds and the ability to control the frequency of thrust inputs. A dual-mode (active/passive homing) seeker is likely to be fitted.

  • A successor to the R-73/RVV-MD may come in the shape of Vympel's Izdeliye 760 (a derivative of the earlier K-74/Izdeliye 740 concept). It will have an improved IR seeker, an inertial control system, datalink receiver for target updates and an advanced rocket motor with a longer burn time. To make the missile suitable for internal carriage, its cross-section will be reduced. To maximise the weapon's coverage, it can be fired in lock-on-after-launch mode, starting under inertial control before achieving in-flight lock-on. It will be able to engage targets up to 160 from the aircraft's heading. The Izdeliye 760 may have already completed flight tests.

  • The follow-on to the Izdeliye 760 is identified as the K-MD (Izdeliye 300), which is intended to outperform the ASRAAM and AIM-9X. Although it will draw on experience from the R-73/R-74 series, it will essentially be an all-new missile. It will use an IR seeker with a focal-plane array and this will have more than twice the lock-on range of the Izdeliye 760 seeker, a high resistance to countermeasures and a target-recognition capability.

  • In terms of deployed weapons Russia's most notable recent achievement has been the introduction of the very-long-range R-37 missile as part of the MiG-31BM 'Foxhound' upgrade. One of Russia's 'lost projects' from the 1990s, the R-37 was designed to work specifically with the aircraft's improved NIIP Zaslon-M passive electronically scanning array (PESA) radar. The R-37 has an range of up to 230 km. After many years of delayed development the MiG-31BM/R-37 combination is entering Russian service.

  • A second long-range AAM program exists in Russia, though with many different names. Developed by Novator, the K-100 missile (also known as the Izdeliye 172, KS-172, RVV-BD and AAM-L) is potentially a 200 km+ weapon associated with the Su-35S (and export Su-35BM) program. Versions of this missile have appeared sporadically in public since the 1990s and in recent years full-sized mock-ups were shown carried by Su-35 aircraft. In March 2004 Indian press reports claimed that Russia and India were about to begin collaborative development of the 172 missile, referred to as the R-172. By 2006 the Izdeliye 172/K-100 was confirmed as a potential weapon for Sukhoi's revised Su-35 design and was exhibited in China that year. A full-size mock-up of a weapon identified only as 'AAM' (a catch-all designation) was shown for the first time in more than a decade at the 2007 Moscow Air Show. The K-100 was absent in any form from the 2009 Moscow Air Show, indicating perhaps that the program had returned to classified status.

While the Russian air force possesses active-radar homing missile technology, it only has a small number of those weapons in service. The RVV-SD missiles are just beginning to reach de facto initial operational capability in the Russian Air Force - it is necessary to provide training, etc, Barabanov said. As with all aircraft missiles, the RVV-SD is a limited resource in terms of the number of takeoffs and landings onboard an airplane. At the end of this limited resource, it is necessary to send a missile to be repaired for life extension. Therefore, during peacetime, flying airplanes with expensive new missile does not make sense. It was not until 2011 that the Russian air force received its first RVV-SD missilesand the service does not yet have enough of the new weapons in its inventory.

Air-to-Air Missiles

Air-to-Air Missiles

Air-to-Air Missiles

Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'

Page last modified: 02-06-2018 18:25:42 ZULU