Douglas Barrie/LONDON

RUSSIAN MISSILE manufacturer Vympel says that it has carried out air-launch tests of a ramjet-powered variant of the R-77 (AA-12 Adder).

The tests were performed from the air force's Ahktubinsk test centre using a Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker as the launch aircraft, according to Vympel. Five launches were carried out successfully.

Vympel unveiled a rocket/ramjet-powered design based around the R-77 in Moscow in 1993, although static ground-launch tests had only then been carried out on the ramjet-powered derivative.

A rocket/ramjet R-77 offers advantages compared with the basic solid-propellant version of the weapon, particularly in terms of range and speed.

Vympel says that the Russian air force is interested in the ramjet-powered variant, although funding issues remain a concern.

The missile company has also unveiled a variant of the R-77 which appears to be optimised for internal carriage with fully folding lattice rear fins.

The missile was on display during the Paris air show. Previous R-77s shown on aircraft had the lattice wings bolted into position. Mikoyan's 1.42 fifth-generation fighter programme may carry its primary air-to-air arsenal internally.

The R-77 is now in service with Russian air force Su-27 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter units.

The active-radar-guided R-77 is the replacement for the semi-active Vympel R-27 (AA-10 Alamo), which now forms the backbone of the air force's beyond-visual-range missile inventory.

The design house has also been working on an active-radar variant of the R-27.

Source: Flight International