Inside Russia’s R-77
A recent trip by Moscow’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to GosMKB Vympel—a visit that marked the state-owned company’s 70th anniversary—served as a prime opportunity to open the doors of its facility and display a number of interesting missiles, including the R-77 (AA-12 Archer), which it manufactures on site.
An air-to-air missile on display during the visit that looked like a shortened version of the R-77 (RVV-AE) aroused the most interest. This product, called “a new Russian air-to-air missile,” is intended for deployment from the small side weapon compartment of the Sukhoi Su-57 fighter. It appears to be the Russian equivalent of Lockheed Martin’s Cuda missile.
However, upon close examination, it is apparent that these are selected sections of the regular RVV-AE missile assembled together, including the seeker, laser proximity fuse section, control system compartment and folding lattice fins. The weapon lacked the central section of the body—including rocket motor and wings—as well as, possibly, the warhead. It is most likely that the missile on display is from a stage in the standard RVV-AE production cycle.
What is the R-77?
The Vympel R-77 (also known by its NATO reporting name, AA-12 Adder) active radar air-to-air missile is the Russian equivalent of the AIM-120 Amraam. It was launched for the first time from a Mikoyan MiG-29 in May 1984.
For many years, the only version in production by Vympel was the export RVV-AE air-to-air missile. Nonetheless, a small number of exportable RVV-AE missiles found their way into the Russian Air Force’s inventory. Production of the RVV-AE may be estimated at 7,000-8,000 units, but exact numbers are unknown. The RVV-AE’s maximum range declared by the manufacturer is 80 km; the missile weighs 177 kg.
Click on the plus signs below to find out more about the composition of the RVV-AE missile.
This is an abbreviated version of an article by Piotr Butowski that appeared in Aviation Week & Space Technology. More details on the R-77 and other devices of interest on display are in the full article. Login or subscribe to access the full article here.