Magic 2 shown on a Mirage 2000-5 of the Taiwan air force in 2012. Note the opaque seeker.
Source: Xuan Shisheng - © GNU Attribution Share Alike license
The R.550 Magic is a late Cold War era short range air to air missile of French origin. The Magic was developed by the French company Matra as an indigenous competitor to the US AIM-9 Sidewinder. It served as the main short range air to air missile on French aircraft for several decades. The IR guided version of the MICA is the successor in French service, although stocks of Magic 2 are still retained.
The Magic is an infrared guided short range air to air missile with a standard layout. The seeker and warhead ar located in the nose. The rest of the body is made up by the solid propellant rocket motor. There are two sets of fins at the front and one set of fins at the rear. The rear sets of front fins are used to steer the missile in flight.
The Magic uses an infrared seeker and is a fire and forget missile. The Magic 1 employed a seeker which could engage targets from a rear aspect of 140 degrees only. Also, the seeker proved less reliable at altitudes above 18 km and at very low level. The Magic 2 has a much improved seeker and allows for frontal engagement as wel.
The Magic has a high explosive fragmentation warhead of 12.5 kg. It has a maximum range of 15 km and a minimum range of about 300 meters. While the ranges and performance were acceptable for a dogfight missile in the 1980's, by today's standards the range and performance are rather limited.
The R.550 Magic was produced in large quantities. Aside from use by the French military it was exported to over 20 nations. The Magic can be used on a wide variety of French aircraft. These include the Mirage III, Mirage 5, Super Etendard, Mirage F1, Mirage 2000 and Rafale. For some export sales it has also been integrated on foreign aircraft, such as Sea Harrier, F-16 and F-5 Tiger.
The MICA IR was developed as a longer range and more capable successor to the R.550 Magic 2 in French service.
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