MALAYSIA IS TO become the first export customer for the Vympel RVV-AE (AA-12) medium-range air-to-air missile (AAM), say senior Russian industry officials at the show.

The Malaysian air force has ordered 18 Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter aircraft and the supply of the RVV-AE is believed to be part of the agreement.

Officials from Russia's AGAT research institute, which designs the active seeker for the RVV-AE, confirm that a modified version will be supplied to Malaysia.

The supply of such a sophisticated weapon to Malaysia could result in a clamour from other countries in the region for a comparable Western weapon, such as the Hughes AIM-120 AMRAAM or the active variant of the Matra Mica.

It also raises questions about exactly which model of MiG-29 Malaysia will receive. AGAT officials claim that the Malaysian aircraft will have a dual-target engagement capability with the RVV-AE, implying that a modified version of the Phazotron NO19 radar, the NO19M Topaz, will be fitted.

AGAT officials say that the RVV-AE is in Russian service on the MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27, although funding problems are restricting production. Lack of funding is also delaying the development of the Vympel R-37 long-range AAM for the Mikoyan MiG-31M Foxhound, say officials.

Work on the missile is understood to have begun in 1987, with extended-range engagements in 1994. AGAT claims that the AAM has been tested at a range of around 280km (150nm). AGAT has developed a dual-mode semi-active/ active seeker for the R-37.

Source: Flight International