12 Agustus 2015
Surface-launched variant of the R-27 showing the addition of the Artem booster. This modification, made by Artem, will give the surface-launched R-27 variant an effective range of 55 km (photo : Jane's)
In an effort to develop a new product line independent of their traditional Russian partners, two Ukrainian enterprises - Artem and Radionix - have entered into a co-operative programme to develop a new, air defence version of the Vympel R-27 (NATO reporting name: AA-10 'Alamo') air-to-air missile (AAM).
The R-27 is of Russian design, developed in numerous variants during the Soviet era by the GosMKB Vympel design bureau in Moscow, although the production line for these missiles and most of other Soviet design AAMs was generally located in Kiev at the Artem plant.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Artem continued to produce a full line of missiles and operate as a supplier to both the Russian armed forces and export customers of Russian fighter aircraft. However, with the incursion into Ukraine and subsequent embargoes on all defence trade with Russia, Artem has been cut off from GosMKB Vympel in Moscow, and the company is now leveraging its significant missile design capacity to develop a new product line based on the R-27.
Ukrainian industry sources told IHS Jane's that the basic concept for the R-27 ground-launched version involves two basic adjustments to the missile's design. The first will add a booster motor to the missile to give it the additional range and altitude required to engage airborne targets. This modification, made by Artem, will give the surface-launched R-27 variant an effective range of 55 km.
Secondly, the missile will be fitted with three new guidance systems: an infrared (IR) seeker, an active radar-homing seeker head and a passive, anti-radiation design. Currently in development with Radionix, the Ukrainian electronics, radar and electronic warfare house, the new guidance package will make the missile less vulnerable to countermeasures, where a jammer optimised against one type of seeker will be ineffective against one of the other two types.
Artem previously embarked on a more complex re-design of the R-27 for use as a surface-to-air missile. This was unveiled at the 2014 AviaSvit Ukrainian Air Show. This missile, designated AR(ZR)-260T, strips all of the guidance vanes from the missile and adds a new set of control vanes along with a new booster motor. The AR(ZR)-260T was to have used a non-Ukrainian IR seeker, although Artem did not announce plans to fit a radar-homing or anti-radiation seeker to this version.