Country of origin
Missile launch weight
Range of fire
up to 200 km
semi-active and active radar homing
(Western designation: AA-13 Arrow, although sometimes AA-X-13 Arrow)
is a large, fast, powerful, and extremely long-ranged Russian
air-to-air missile. Vympel, a sizeable research and production
company, (now part of TRV) designed and built the R-37.
The R-37 was developed to replace the R-33 (Western
designation: AA-9 Amos), which was used on the
Its main purpose is to shoot down aircraft (particularly high value AWACS—Airborne Warning And Control System—aircraft) and possibly
even cruise missiles from such long range that the launch platform
is safe from retaliation.
A council of ministers in the USSR started the development of
the R-37 in 1983. Testing began six years later in 1989. In 1994,
the K-37 (the R-37’s name in development) secured a kill and a
record at the same time by hitting its target from 300 kilometers.
However, in 1998, the K-37 program was dropped due to its high cost
and lack of enough suitable MiG-31 launch platforms. But, in 2006,
the Russian government restarted the weapon’s development as part of
the MiG-31BM program. The new version is known as R-37M or RVV-BD.
It is unknown if this missile has entered service
yet, although according to some sources it entered production in
The R-37M is believed to track its targets with both
semi-active and active radar homing. Its radar system is the
9B-1388. The R-37M probably homes on its targets in this way: first,
the launch platform detects its target and launches the R-37 towards
the target’s hypothesized position. Once the R-37M comes within
suitable range of the target, it activates its own radar and homes
in on the target. The R-37M can also use a fire-and-forget mode where
it is completely independent of its launch platform.
The recent R-37M is a powerful and effective missile. It is much more
maneuverable than its predecessor, the R-33. It can engage targets
from any altitude between 15 and 25 000 meters, giving it great
versatility. Its high explosive fragmentation warhead is
huge—60 kilograms—and capable of critically damaging even large AWACS
aircraft. It has an incredibly fast speed—Mach 6 or about 7 350
km/h, which is enough to easily catch up with every type of
aircraft. Above all, it reportedly has an enormous range— of up to 200.
Although normally called the R-37, this missile has many
other names. In the West it is designated as the AA-X-13, AA-13, Arrow, or even Andi. In Russia, it is also known as the
Izdeliye 610 or RVV-BD (Raketa Vozduh-Vozduh Bolyshoy Dalnosty or English for
Long-Range Air-to-Air Missile).
It appears that the R-37M will be used on two types of
aircraft. The first is the
MiG-31BM, an extremely fast
interceptor aircraft. The second is the
Su-35S, a powerful
K-37: development name.
R-37 is an
original version. Its development began in 1983 and was stopped in
1998 due to funding problems. In 1994 a prototype of this missile
secured a kill and a record at the same time by hitting its target
from 300 kilometers. This missile was never produced in quantity.
R-37M is a significantly improved version. It is also known
as the RVV-BD. Development of the R-37 was restarted in 2006 and
significant changes were made to the missile. Also it uses a
slightly different guidance method. The R-37 has a range of up to 200 km,
depending on flight profile. Maximum range is achieved in "cruise
glide" mode. According to some sources this missile is in production
for the Russian armed forces.
AIM-54 Phoenix: to date, the AIM-54 Phoenix is the only US
long-range air-to-air missile. It entered service in 1974. With a
large warhead, active radar homing, speed of Mach 5, and range of
about 190 km, the Phoenix was reasonably powerful. It was only used
on one type of aircraft—the
F-14 Tomcat. In 2004, the Phoenix was
retired from US service and the F-14’s retirement followed soon
after. Iran is the only other nation besides the US to use the
missile as well as the aircraft, and it continues to do so.
R-33: It is a predecessor of the R-37. It is a large, long-range air-to-air missile used on the
MiG-31. It has a range of more than 120 km and uses semi-active
K-100: like the R-37, the K-100 is intended to destroy AWACS
aircraft. Also like the R-37, it was developed in the 80s until work
stalled in the 90s. The K-100 remains under development, but when it
enters service (if ever), it will be used by both Russian and India,
Su-30MKI, Su-35, and
PAK FA aircraft.
Article by The Tiger
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