BVR: Russia’s attempt at narrowing the gap. For decades, Russia has developed long-range ground-based anti-aircraft missiles. Paradoxically, Russia has often lagged behind in the development of BVR air-to-air missiles. The Russians are now attempting to develop missiles that can rival their Western counterparts in terms of range.
The R-37 Vympel (AA-13 Arrow) was developed to target NATO high-value targets such as AWACS and other “spy” planes. It is a development of the R-33 (AA-9 Amos). Its initial range is only 150km, but if launched from high altitude, one can attempt a cruise glide shot at ranges of up to 400km. The missile is in service but 150km is not sufficient for today’s BVR requirements.
Enter the R-37M. Designed for use on MiG-31 interceptors, the R-37M is similar to the R-37 but is equipped with a rocket booster which enables it to reach ranges of between 300 and 400km. That’s better. The missile is in limited service today and is being modified for integration on the PaK-FA.
What about the KS-172 ? The KS-172 is actually an old program that was stopped in the 1990’s due to lack of funds. The missile is also known as the Novator K-100. It is basically an air to air missile which looks like it is based on those launched by the ground to air system “Buk”. It is therefore very heavy, coming up at 748kg !!! It has been tested at ranges of up to 200km but seems to have the potential to reach up to 400km. The program was resurrected after a partnership was established between India and Russia in the mid 2000’s. India wants them for its Su-30s. Russia would love those for its MiG-31. Work on the project is ongoing as we speak. Keep an eye out for future updates on the subject!