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Vympel R-73
R-73 HuAF.jpg
R-73 mock-up on a Hungarian Air Force MiG-29 at Kecskeméti Repülőnap 2008
Type short-range air-to-air missile
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1982-present
Production history
Manufacturer Vympel
Weight 105 kilograms (231 lb)
Length 2.93 metres (9 ft 7 in)
Diameter 165 millimetres (6.5 in)

Warhead 7.4 kilograms (16 lb)

Engine solid-fuel rocket engine
Wingspan 510 millimetres (20 in)
R-73E: 20 kilometres (12 mi)
R-73M1: 30 kilometres (19 mi) [1]

R-73M2: 40km (24.7 miles)[2]

Speed Mach 2.5
All-aspect infrared homing

The Vympel R-73 (NATO reporting name AA-11 Archer) is a short-range air-to-air missile developed by Vympel NPO, that entered service in 1982.


The R-73 was developed to replace the earlier R-60 (AA-8 'Aphid') weapon for short-range use by Soviet fighter aircraft. Work began in 1973, and the first missiles entered service in 1982.

The R-73 is an infrared-guided (heat-seeking) missile with a sensitive, cryogenic cooled seeker with a substantial "off-boresight" capability: the seeker can "see" targets up to 40° off the missile's centerline.[3] It can be targeted by a helmet-mounted sight (HMS) allowing pilots to designate targets by looking at them. Minimum engagement range is about 300 meters, with maximum aerodynamic range of nearly 30 km (19 mi) at altitude.

The R-73 is a highly maneuverable missile and mock dogfights have indicated that the high degree of "off-boresight" capability of the R-73 would make a significant difference in combat. The missile also has a mechanically simple but effective system for thrust-vectoring. Altogether this prompted the development of the Sidewinder and other SRM successors like AIM-132 ASRAAM, IRIS-T, MICA IR, Python IV and the latest Sidewinder variant, AIM-9X, that entered squadron service in 2003.

From 1994 the R-73 has been upgraded in production to the R-73M standard, which entered CIS service in 1997. The R-73M has greater range and a wider seeker angle (to 60° off-boresight), as well as improved IRCCM (Infra-Red Counter-Counter-Measures).

An improved version of the R-73M, the R-74M features fully digital and re-programmable systems, and is intended for use on the MiG-35 or MiG-29K/M/M2 and Su-27SM, Su-30MK and Su-35BM.

The weapon is used by the MiG-29, MiG-31, Su-27, Su-34 and Su-35, and can be carried by newer versions of the MiG-21, MiG-23, Sukhoi Su-24, and Su-25 aircraft.[4] India is looking to use the missile on their HAL Tejas. It can also be carried by Russian attack helicopters, including the Mil Mi-24, Mil Mi-28, and Kamov Ka-50.

AA-11 Archer missile.PNG

Operational history

On 24 February 1996, two Cessna 337 of the Brothers to the Rescue were shot down by a Cuban Air Force MiG-29UB. Each of the aircraft was downed by a R-73 missile.[5]

During Eritrean-Ethiopian War from May 1998 to June 2000, R-73 missiles were used in combat by both Ethiopian Su-27s and Eritrean MiG-29s. It was the IR-homing R-60 and the R-73 that were used in all but two of the kills. It is reported that R-73 launches were successful less than 10% of the time when fired from both Su-27 and Mig-29.[citation needed]

On March 18, 2008, a MIG-29 Fulcrum of the Russian Air Force intercepted a Georgian Elbit Hermes 450 UAV over Abkhazia. The MIG-29's pilot launched a single R-73 missile at the UAV. The missile struck the UAV and destroyed it.


  •  Algeria[6]
  •  Bangladesh[7]
  •  Bulgaria
  •  China
  •  Cuba
  •  Eritrea
  •  Ethiopia
  •  Georgia Used on SU-25KM Scorpion [8]
  •  India
  •  Indonesia
  •  Iran
  •  Malaysia
  •  North Korea
  •  Peru
  •  Poland
  •  Russia
  •  Serbia
  •  Slovakia
  •  Ukraine
  •  Venezuela
  •  Vietnam
  •  Egypt

Former operators

  •  East Germany
  •  Germany
  •  Hungary
  •  Romania
  •  Soviet Union Passed to successor states.




External links

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