RUSSIAN MISSILE design house Vympel is continuing to work on a rearward-firing variant of its R-73 (AA-11 Archer), although it has yet to be integrated with a rearward-facing radar, according to Gennady Sokolovsky, Vympel's chief designer.

Sokolovsky, speaking at a conference in London on 16 February, confirmed that work is continuing on the programme. So far, however, the missile has only been visually cued.

The rearward-firing R-73 could be fielded with the Sukhoi Su-34 replacement for the Su-24 Fencer. The Su-34 is intended to have a rearward-facing radar, designated the NO14.

He says that the aerodynamic problems associated with the rearward launch of a missile have been overcome, although this required adjustments to its stability. The missile has been test-fired from a Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker in subsonic and supersonic flight regimes.

British Aerospace is coming down firmly on the side of a hybrid rocket-ramjet propulsion system as the power plant for its proposal to meet the Royal Air Force's Staff Target (Air) 1239 for a medium range air-to-air missile.

Mick Martin, BAe Dynamics Business Development executive says: "The most efficient sustainer system is an air breather, thus gaining the additional advantage of significantly greater overall power."

Source: Flight International