Meet the R-37 Long-Range Air-to-Air Missile

The R-37 long-range air-to-air missile was developed by Vympel NPO as a further development of the R-33 air-to-air missile for arming the MiG-31M interceptor. The development of the rocket was started by the Decree of the USSR Council of Ministers of April 8, 1983.

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The draft design of the rocket was defended in 1983, then tests began in 1988 with autonomous ballistic missile launches without a control system. In 1989, flight tests of the R-37 missiles began.

The tests of the rocket continued until 1997. After 1997, due to the violation of cooperation with Ukrainian enterprises that were involved in the creation of missile guidance systems, it was decided to develop a guidance system using only Russian components. As of 2007, the Tactical Missile Corporation (KTRV) was already working on the creation of the long-range air-to-air missile, which is almost a full analogue of the R-37 missile.

In 2011, it was decided to start mass production of the rocket. In 2014, the long-range air-to-air missile was adopted by the Russian Air Force, and its serial production was officially started.

It is planned to equip the MiG-31BM fighter-interceptors with R-37 missiles, as well as the fifth generation Su-57 fighters PAK FA (ПАК ФА, short for: prospective aeronautical complex of front-line air forces). The western name for the R-37 long-range air-to-air missile is AA-13 ARROW.

R-37 missile at MAKS-2011 air show-
Evgeny Erokhin
Aircraft carriers of R-37 missiles in the Russian Air Force

Since 2014, the rocket has been adopted by the Russian Air Force and, according to media reports, is in serial production. The R-37 missiles are carried by the following aircraft:

  • MiG-31M - the R-37 missile was created as the main component of the MiG-31M armament complex in the late 1980s-1990s. Under the fuselage, on a partially conformal suspension with an AKU-410 catapult launcher, the aircraft could carry 6 missiles.
  • MiG-31B / MiG-31BS / MiG-31BM - it is possible to place R-37 / RVV-BD missiles instead of R-33 missiles under the aircraft fuselage (4 missiles).
Missile Design

The R-37 rocket is made according to the normal aerodynamic configuration with a low aspect ratio wing with a large chord. The stabilizers are in the folded position before starting.

The rocket is equipped with a dual-mode launch-sustained solid-propellant rocket engine (SRMT).

Tactical and Technical Characteristics
Length - 4060 mm
Case diameter - 380 mm
Wingspan - 720 mm
Stabilizer span - 1020 mm
Weight - 510 kg
Warhead weight - 60 kg

Range of action

up to 200 km (export version)
up to 300 km (option for the Russian Air Force)
Flight speed - 6 M
Flight altitude of targets hit - 15 - 25000 m
Overload maneuvering target - up to 8 G
MiG-31M with R-37 missiles under the fuselage, 1990s.
(Equipment and weapons. No. 9/2005)
Combat equipment

The missile is equipped with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead with non-contact active radar and back-up contact fuses.

Active radar seeker 9B-1388 R-37 missiles
Control system and guidance

The missile control system is combined with an inertial system with active and semi-active radar guidance supplemented by a radio correction system. The inertial-active-semi-active GOS 9B-1388 / MFBU-610 developed by the Agat Research Institute was used on the first versions of the R-37 missile and was mass-produced by the Ryazan Radio Plant. Due to the wide participation of Ukrainian enterprises in the development of the homing head, the design of the homing head, guidance system and other on-board systems required a radical change.

For the long-range air-to-air missile, a completely Russian control and guidance system was created with the 9B-1103M-350 homing head developed by the Agat Research Institute. Target designation before launch is carried out in the 120 degrees sector in the front semisphere of the carrier aircraft. The homing head has a new miniature digital signal processor with a large amount of memory and increased performance. Instead of conventional mechanical gyroscopes, the radar homing uses fiber-optic gyroscopes and mechanical gyroscopes with a forced exit to the operating mode, which reduces the time required to prepare the rocket for launch.

  • R-37 / "product 610" - the first version of the rocket, was tested on the MiG-31M.
  • R-37M / RVV-BD / "product 610M" - "long-range air-to-air missile" - the name of the modern version of the R-37 missile made only from Russian components, without using the cooperation that developed in the USSR. Under this name, the rocket was exhibited at exhibitions of military equipment in the late 2000s. The main purpose of the missile is to arm the MiG-31BM aircraft. The rocket does not fold the bottom pair of aerodynamic rudders.
  • R-37ME / RVV-BD / "product 620" - a modernized version of the rocket, mentioned in the 1990s. It was first shown as an export option at the MAKS-2011 air show.

©New defence order. Strategy (2018)
Catalogue of Weapons - Dimitry Kornev

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