The development of the K-5 began in 1951. The first test firings were in 1955. It was tested (but not operationally carried) by the Yakovlev Yak-25. The weapon entered service as the Grushin/Tomashevich (Russian: Грушин/Томашевич) RS-2U (also known as the R-5MS or K-5MS) in 1957. The initial version was matched to the RP-2U (Izumrud-2) radar used on the MiG-17PFU, MiG-19PM. An improved variant, K-5M or RS-2US in PVO service, entered production in 1959, matched to the RP-9/RP-9U (Sapfir) radar of the Sukhoi Su-9. The People's Republic of China developed a copy under the designation PL-1, for use by their J-6B fighters.
The difficulties associated with beam-riding guidance, particularly in a single-seat fighter aircraft, were substantial, making the 'Alkali' primarily a short-range anti-bomber missile. Around 1967 the K-5 was replaced by the K-55 (R-55 in service), which replaced the beam-riding seeker with the semi-active radar homing or infrared seekers of the K-13 (AA-2 'Atoll'). The weapon was 7.8 kg (17.2 lb) heavier than the K-5, but had a smaller 9.1 kg (20.1 lb) warhead. The K-55 remained in service through about 1977, probably being retired with the last of the Sukhoi Su-9 interceptors.
Specifications (RS-2US / K-5MS)
- Length: 2500 mm (8 ft 2 in)
- Wingspan: 654 mm (2 ft 2 in)
- Diameter: 200 mm (7⅞ in)
- Launch weight: 82.7 kg (183.3 lb)
- Speed: 800 m/s (2,880 km/h, 1,790 mph)
- Range: 2–6 km (1¼-3¾ mi)
- Guidance: beam riding
- Warhead: 13.0 kg (28.7 lb)
- Soviet Union
- Both the Soviet Air Force (VVS) and the Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) operated the K-5.
- The People's Liberation Army Air Force operated licensed Chinese copy of Kaliningrad K-5 designated as PL-1 (PL: short for Pi Li or Pili, meaning thunderbolt).
- The Czechoslovakian Air Force operated RS-2U and RS-2US.
- The Polish Air Force operated RS-2US on MiG-19PMs and MiG-21s, still in use as practice target.
- SRCP-WR z ITWL. pl.
- Gordon, Yefim (2004). Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons Since World War Two. Hinckley, England: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-188-1.
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