Air Weapons: Good Enough


April 27, 2012: Malaysia has ordered 90 AA-12 radar guided missiles from Russia, for use on Malaysian MiG-29s and Su-30s. The AA-12 (or RVV-AE, or R-77) is the Russian counterpart to the American AMRAAM. The AA-12 is similar in size and weight, weighing 175 kg (385 pounds) versus 152.2 kg (335 pounds) for AMRAAM. AA-12 is 3.8 meters (11.9 feet) long compared to 3.6 meters (11.2 feet), and 200mm in diameter versus 178mm. The AA-12 has a max range of 90 kilometers (compared to 70 for AMRAAM).

The AA-12 has yet to be used in combat. Russian missiles, historically, have been less reliable and effective than their Western counterparts. The Russian missiles are not worthless, they are just less likely to knock down aircraft they are aimed at. The Chinese saw flaws in the AA-12 and wanted to improve that design so that it is more competitive with AMRAAM. The Chinese were eager to create an effective competitor for AMRAAM that they could export. Their PL-12 has, so far, not demonstrated any extraordinary abilities.



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