Skip to comments.R-77, R-73 Missile Upgrades Emerge (Russian missiles)
Posted on 08/13/2009 11:01:57 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
R-77, R-73 Missile Upgrades Emerge
Aug 13, 2009
Russia's leading guided-weapons manufacturer will wheel out revised--if long- touted--versions of its two key air-to-air missile products this month, as it tries to bolster its position in the export arena.
Tactical Missile Corp.--also known as TRV--will formally unveil its so-called RVV-SD and RVV-MD missiles for the first time at the Moscow air show later this month. The RVV-SD is an improved version of the R-77 (AA-Adder), while the RVV-MD is a variant of the R-73 (AA-11 Archer).
The radar-guided R-77 has been sold widely, with China and India placing significant orders for the weapon, as was the case for the R-73. The baseline R-77 was designed in the 1980s, with development complete by around 1994. India was the first export customer for the export variant, known as the RVVAE, with the final batch delivered in 2002.
A problem for the company was the lack of adequate funding during the 1990s and the first part of this decade to support further evolution of the R-77, either for the Russian air force or the export market. The basic version of the R-77 is not thought to have entered the Russian air force inventory in significant numbers.
Meanwhile, Western suppliers have been pushing into some traditionally Russian markets--while major customers such as India and China have been pursuing their own missile programs such as the Astra and the PL-12, respectively.
The RVV-SD and RVV-MD already appear to be part of Russia's bid for India's medium multirole combat aircraft competition. Both designations were included by MiG on a presentation covering MiG-35 Fulcrum armament during Air Show India in February.
The basic R-77 is known as the Article 170, and the RVV-SD includes the upgrades associated with the Article 170-1 designation. The 170-1 development has been underway for some time, and testing is believed to have been carried out. The RVV-SD is in effect the export variant of the 170-1.
According to information released by the company, the missile is 15 kg. (33 lb.) heavier than the basic R-77/RVVAE, weighing 190 kg. rather than 175 kg. Maximum range claimed is increased to 110 from 80 km. (68 from 50 mi.). The missile is also slightly longer at 3.71 meters (12 ft.), rather than the 3.6 meters of the basic variant.
The radar seeker has also probably been upgraded. Russian missile manufacturer Agat previously confirmed it was working on seeker upgrades for the R-77, implying that at least two projects were underway, one for export and one for the Russian air force.
Vympel--which originally designed the R-77, and is now part of TRV--is also working on a more extensive upgrade of the missile than the 170-1. This project is designated the Article 180, and is in effect a mid-life upgrade for the weapon. This is intended to provide a further improvement in range, with the design including a dual-pulse motor configuration. Moving from the R-77's signature lattice fin configuration to a conventional fin is also part of this program.
The initial RVV-MD offering is likely no more than a stopgap to try to maintain its position, and to provide a credible radar-guided weapon to offer as part of fighter export packages and upgrade programs.
As for upgrades to the R-73, the RVV-SD variant appears to have a considerable amount in common with a development known as the K-74, which Vympel first discussed publicly in 1997. Both designations are associated with Archer variants with an improved seeker and an improved off-boresight limit. Data released by the company show the RVV-SD as 1 kg. heavier than the R-73 at 106 kg., and also slightly longer at 2.92 meters rather than 2.9 meters. The maximum launch range is also increased by 10 km.
As with the RVV-SD, the upgraded variant of the Archer is again a stop-gap to provide for the export arena--and possibly for the domestic customer-- until a more capable short-range air-to-air missile is available. Vympel's K-30 dogfight missile program is intended to provide an eventual successor to the Archer, and the program dates back to at least the 1990s. Development, again, has been hampered by a lack of sufficient resources.
Russian industry sources indicate that both the RVV-SD and RVV-MD will have folding fins to allow for internal carriage. This at least suggests the Russian air force may be keeping its options open should it acquire the domestic variants of these upgrades to include them in the weapons inventory of its fifth-generation fighter, known as PAK-FA. India is also "participating" in PAK-FA, and the internal carriage modification may also have been performed with this in mind.
As well as upgraded air-to-air systems, TRV will showcase an extended-range version of its Kh-35/3M-24 (AS-20 Kayak/SS-N-25 Switchblade) anti-ship missile. The Kh-35UE will have a maximum engagement range of 260 km., compared with the 130km. range for the basic Kh-35. Zvezda-Strela, the company which originally designed the Kh-35/3M-24, is also now part of TRV. In 1997, company literature discussed the 3M-24E1 variant of the missile as part of the Uranium anti-ship missile system for surface ships. This proposed version of the weapon had a claimed range of range of 250-300 km.
R-77 missile photo credit: KNAAPO
Interesting article. The Archer is supposed to be quite an excellent weapon, from what I’ve read.
I don’t know as much about the Adder, other than it is supposed to be (more or less) the Russian counterpart to the AMRAAM. It’d be interesting to see how effective its electronics/hardware are by comparison.
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