Munitions / Air to air missiles / AA-5 Ash

AA-5 Ash

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Air to air missile

  • ORIGIN
    USSR

  • NICKNAMES
    AA-5 Ash (NATO reporting name)
    R-80, K-80 (early Soviet designations)

  • DESIGNED
    1959 - 1963

  • DESIGNER
    Bisnovat

  • PRODUCTION
    1963 - 1970's

  • PRODUCERS
    USSR - Bisnovat (later Molniya)

  • QUANTITY
    Unknown

  • UNIT COST
    Unknown

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Good range
    Powerful warhead
    All aspect engagement
    Cannot be used at low and medium altitudes
    Limited

Introduction

The R-4 is a long rang air to air missile of Soviet origin. It was developed in the early 1960's as the sole weapon to equip the huge Tu-128 Fiddler interceptor. In the West the R-4 is known as the AA-5 Ash. The R-4 was later supplemented by the more capable R-40 which was used on the MiG-25 Foxbat interceptor.

Layout

The R-4 has a conventional Cold War era design with large wings. The seeker is mounted in the nose and is followed by the warhead. The rear half is made up rocket engine. The R-4 has four large wings in the middle and four tail wings that provide steering.

Guidance

In accordance with Soviet doctrine the R-4 missile was developed with two types of guidance. One version uses semi-active radar homing (SARH). The other uses infrared homing (IR). Both types require a lock on before launch. The SARH variant was the first Soviet missile with all aspect engagement capability and could even be launched from an altitude 8 km below the target. The maximum IR seeker range is 15 km, thus limiting the maximum engagement range. The IR variant can only be fired from the target's rear aspect.

Firepower

The SARH variant has a maximum range of 25 km and the IR variant may reach up to 15 km. Targets may maneuver up to 4 G, which is increased up to 5 G for the improved R-4M series. The 53 kg warhead will even ensure a kill against large aircraft.

Platforms

The R-4 series was only used on the Tu-128 in conjunction with the RP-S Smerch radar. The improved R-4M series was carried on the Tu-128M which uses the improved RP-SM Smerch-M radar. There are reports that the MiG-25 was also able to carry the missile. The Tu-128 could carry four missiles with the usual loadout being two SARH and two IR versions. In a typical engagement one missile of each type would be fired to maximize the odds of a hit.

Users

The R-4 was only adopted by the USSR. Since the Tu-128 was never exported the R-4 missiles haven't been exported either. After nearly 40 years of service the last R-4M missiles were retired along with the Tu-128 in 1990.

Variants

R-4

R-4R: Initial production model with semi-active radar homing. It requires constant target illumination from the RP-S Smerch radar used on the Tu-128, but has an all aspect engagement capability.
R-4T: Initial production model with infrared homing. It requires a lock on before launch but is autonomous after launch. Maximum range is limited by seeker lock on range.
R-4MR: Improved model with semi-active radar homing introduced in the late 1970's. It has a reduced minimum engagement range and is fitted with an improved seeker that is used in conjunction with the RP-SM Smerch-M radar.
R-4MT: Improved model with infrared homing, also introduced in the late 1970's. The improved seeker no longer limits the engagement range.

TypeAir to air missile
Diameter310 mm body, 1.3 m wingspan
Length5.45 m
Weight493 kg
GuidanceSemi-active radar homing
Warhead54 kg HE blast
PropulsionSingle-stage solid propellant rocket motor
SpeedMach 1.6
Range2 to 25 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope8 to 21 km altitude
Remarks-
TypeAir to air missile
Diameter310 mm body, 1.3 m wingspan
Length5.2 m
Weight480 kg
GuidanceInfrared homing
Warhead54 kg HE blast
PropulsionSingle-stage solid propellant rocket motor
SpeedMach 1.6
Range2 to 15 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope8 to 21 km altitude
Remarks-
TypeAir to air missile
Diameter300 mm body, 1.49 m wingspan
Length5.25 m
Weight483 kg
GuidanceSemi-active radar homing
Warhead54 kg HE blast
PropulsionSingle-stage solid propellant rocket motor
SpeedMach 1.6
Range2 to 25 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope0.5 to 21 km altitude
Remarks-
TypeAir to air missile
Diameter300 mm body, 1.49 m wingspan
Length5.16 m
Weight483 kg
GuidanceInfrared homing
Warhead54 kg HE blast
PropulsionSingle-stage solid propellant rocket motor
SpeedMach 1.6
Range2 to 25 km
Altitude-
Engagement envelope0.5 to 21 km altitude
Remarks-

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