The R-27 is a medium-range air-to-air missile, designated as AA-10 “Alamo” with NATO countries. This missile was designed for the Soviet Union’s forth-generation fighters such as the MiG-29 and Su-27 featuring exceptional maneuverability replacing in service MiG-23 fighters armed with the R-23 missiles. Furthermore this missile is carried by improved versions of the MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-25. This missile was also designed as a counterweight for the United States F-15 fighters armed with the AIM-7F “Sparrow” missiles. Suggestions of the new missile conception were made in 1972 – 1973 and at the end of 1973 development of this missile begins. There were made two competeting projects by “Molniya” and “Vympel” design bureaus and early in the 1980s the “Vympel” design was selected for further development. Series production of the R-27 began in 1986.
The R-27 missiles are intended to intercept and defeat aircraft and helicopters of all types, unmanned reconnaissance aircraft and cruise missiles under active enemy electronic jamming, counteractions and maneuvering. There are produced some variants of the AA-10 “Alamo” with two different seeker types – semi-active radarhoming and infrared, and two types of engines – with standard and extended range engine.
The R-27 missiles have a modular design, thus missile can be easily converted from semi-active radarhoming to infrared just replacing the seeker module. Furthermore such design allowed to use the same missile both with the MiG-29 light frontline fighter and mounting extended range module – with the Su-27 long-range interceptor.
“Alamo” missiles are capable to intercept an air target traveling at speed up to 3 500 km/h. Interception altitude varies from 20 meters to 27 kilometers. Maximum altitude difference between target and missile carrying aircraft is 10 kilometers. All R-27 missiles have a minimum range of fire in 0.5 – 1 km and carry 39 kg weight expanding rod warheads.
Initially, as almost all soviet air-to-air missiles, the R-27 came in two variants, having either semi-active radarhoming or an infrared homing seeker. The semi-active radarhoming variant was designated as the R-27R (AA-10A “Alamo-A”), while the infrared variant was designated as R-27T (AA-10B “Alamo-B”). The standard soviet tactic for interceptions is based on firing two missiles with a various seeker types at the same target to maximize kill probability. There are also designed downgraded export versions of these missiles, designated as R-27R1 (AA-10A “Alamo-A”) and R-27T1 (AA-10B “Alamo-B”) respectively.
A few years later “Vympel” developed extended range of the R-27 variants featuring a larger engine and longer range of fire. However internal changes done to the missiles were insignificant. Extended range version of the R-27R received designation as R-27RE (AA-10C “Alamo-C”) and version of the R-27T – the R-27TE (AA-10D “Alamo-D”) respectively. Their export versions are R-27RE1 and R-27TE1 with similar NATO designations.
The R-27RE missile became a base developing a R-27AE and R-27EM missiles. The R-27AE (AA-10C “Alamo-C”) is a medium-range missile, featuring an active radarhoming seeker. The R-27EM (AA-10C “Alamo-C”) is optimized for a long-range low-level interception on water. Current status of this missile is unknown. Both missiles entered service in 1990.
One more variant of the R-27 is an R-27P (AA-10D “Alamo-D”) missile with a passive seeker. This is an anti-radar homing missile launched against aircraft using active radars, such as AWACS and jamming aircraft. Missile’s long-range variant with an extended range engine is the R-27PE. Both missile operational status is unknown.
Source: Enemy Forces