RUSSIA'S VYMPEL design bureau has had to relocate its production line for the R-77 (AA-12 Adder) active-radar guided missile. Full production of the weapon is not likely to begin until 1997.

The R-77, the Russian equivalent of the Hughes AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, was originally intended to enter production in Kiev.

The break-up of the USSR resulted in Kiev becoming the capital of the new Republic of Ukraine, and the Russian air force was unwilling to allow the R-77 main production line to be outside Russia.

Senior Vympel officials say that the bureau is setting up production line tooling for the R-77 at its site in Moscow. They claim that starting series production of the missile will take around 18 months.

The Russian air force and Malaysia will be the first customers for the missile. Malaysia is to receive the R-77 as part of its MiG-29N Fulcrum package. China and India are also likely customers and the design bureau is already in discussions with the Chinese authorities over the supply of the R-77.

So far, around 100 pre-production R-77s have been manufactured by Vympel, some in Moscow and possibly some in Kiev.

Despite the problems with establishing a full production line for the R-77, Vympel has continued to work on an imaging infra-red variant of the missile, the seeker for which is likely to be sourced from the Arsenal factory in Kiev.

Source: Flight International