Novator KS-172

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KS-172 NTW - 94.jpg
Mockup of KS–172 in front of Su-30 in 1994
TypeLong range air-to-air missile
Place of originRussia/India
Production history
Manufacturer NPO Novator
Defence Research and Development Organisation
Mass748 kg (1,650 lb) (KS–172) [1]
Length6.01 m (19.7 ft) + 1.4 m (4.6 ft) (KS–172) [1]
Diameter40 cm (16 in) (KS–172) [1]
WarheadHE fragmentation (KS–172) [1]
Warhead weight50 kg (110 lb)

EngineSolid-propellant tandem rocket booster (KS–172) [1]
Wingspan61 cm (24 in) (KS–172) [1]
At least 200 km, [2] possibly 300–400 km (160–210 nmi)
Flight altitude3 m (9.8 ft)–30,000 m (98,000 ft) (KS–172) [1]
Maximum speed 4,000 km/h (2,500 mph; 1.1 km/s; Mach 3.3) (KS–172) [1]
inertial navigation with midcourse guidance and terminal active radar homing  (KS–172) [1]
Su-27, Su-30, Su-35, [3] Su-30MKI, [1] Su-57 (expected)

The Novator KS-172 is a Russian air-to-air missile designed as an "AWACS killer" [4] at ranges up to 400 km. The missile has had various names during its history, including K-100, Izdeliye 172 ('project 172'), AAM-L (RVV-L), KS–172, KS-1, 172S-1 and R-172. The airframe appears to have been derived from the 9K37 Buk surface-to-air missile (SAM) but development stalled in the mid-1990s for lack of funds. [4] It appears to have restarted in 2004 after a deal with India, who wants to produce the missile in India for their Su-30MKI fighters. It is the heaviest air-to-air missile ever produced.



Modern airforces have become dependent on airborne radars typically carried by converted airliners and transport aircraft such as the E-3 Sentry and A-50 'Mainstay'. They also depend on similar aircraft for inflight refuelling (e.g. Vickers VC10), maritime patrol (e.g. CP-140 Aurora), reconnaissance and electronic warfare (e.g. Tu-16 'Badger' E & J) and C4ISTAR (e.g. VC-25 "Air Force One"). The loss of just one of these aircraft can have a significant effect on fighting capability, and they are usually heavily defended by fighter escorts. A long-range air-to-air missile offers the prospect of bringing down the target without having to fight a way through the fighter screen. Given the potential importance of "blinding" Western AWACS, Russia has devoted considerable resources to this area. The R-37 (missile) (AA-13 'Arrow') is an evolution of their R-33 (AA-9 'Amos') with a range of up to 400 km (220 nmi), and there have been persistent rumours – if little hard evidence – of an air-to-air missile with a range of 200 km (110 nmi) based on Zvezda's Kh-31 anti-radar/anti-shipping missile or its Chinese derivative, the YJ-91.

NPO Novator started work in 1991 on a very long-range air-to-air missile with the Russian project designation Izdeliye 172. [5] Initially called the AAM-L (RVV-L), it made its first public appearance at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi in early 1993, [6] followed by the Moscow Air Show later that year. [5] It was described as having a range of 400 km (220 nmi); the mockup on display had a strong resemblance to the 9K37M1 Buk-M (SA-11 'Gadfly'). Apparently some flight-testing was done on a Su-27, but it appears that the Russians withdrew funding for the project soon afterwards.

The missile resurfaced as the KS–172 in 1999, [6] as part of a new export-led strategy [7] whereby foreign investment in a 300 km (160 nmi)-range export model [6] would ultimately fund a version for the Russian airforce. [7] Again it appears that there were no takers.

In late 2003, the missile was offered again on the export market as the 172S-1. [5] In March 2004, India was reported to have invested in the project and to be "negotiating a partnership" to develop the "R-172". [8] In May 2005 the Indians were said to have finalised "an arrangement to fund final development and licence produce the weapon" in a joint venture similar to that which produced the successful BrahMos cruise missile. [9] Since then the missile has had a higher profile, appearing at the 2005 Moscow Air Show [5] on a Su-30 as the K-172, [4] and a modified version being shown at the 2007 Moscow Air Show designated as the K-100-1. This name first appeared in a Sukhoi document in 2006, [5] and sources such as Jane's now refer to the missile as the K-100. [5]


9B-1103M Seeker head Seeker 9B-1103M of AAML(KS-172) missile.jpg
9B-1103M Seeker head

The mockup shown in 1993 had a strong resemblance to the Buk airframe, but since the Indians became involved there have been some changes. An Indian magazine gave the specifications of the KS–172 in April 2004 as a core 6.01 m long and 40 cm in diameter with a wingspan of 61 cm, with a booster of 1.4 m, and 748 kg total weight. [1] It had a solid fuel tandem rocket booster capable of speeds up to 4,000 km/h (2,500 mph), 12g manoevring, and an adaptive HE fragmentation warhead. [1] Development would concentrate on the seeker head, autopilot, resistance to jamming and a steering system with 3D thrust vector control (TVC). [1]

In May 2005 it was reported that there were two versions, with and without a rocket booster, with ranges of 400 km and 300 km respectively. [9] At the MAKS (air show) in August 2005, a range of 300 km was quoted for a streamlined missile with a small booster and fins on both booster and fuselage. [4] However the model shown at the 2007 MAKS airshow under the name K-100 was closer to the original 1993 mockup in the photo above, with different-shaped fins that were further up the fuselage, and an even larger booster with TVC vents. [10] At the same show it was shown under the wing of a Su-35BM, implying that at least two could be carried by Flanker-class aircraft rather than just one on the centreline.

Guidance is by inertial navigation until the missile is close enough to the target to use active radar for terminal homing. [1] The K-100 has an enlarged (350 mm (14 in)) derivative of the Agat 9B-1103M seeker used in the R-27 (air-to-air missile) (AA-10 'Alamo'). [2] It has a lock-on range of 40 km (22 nmi), described by an Agat designer as "one fifth or less of the overall range". [2]


Sketch-of-KS-172-missile 1993.svg

Prototype in 1993.

Sketch-of-KS-172S1-missile 2003.svg

Prototype in 2003.

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See also

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  10. See photos in "External links" section