Matra R550 Magic 2
|This page is about the French air-to-air missile Matra R550 Magic 2. For the other version, see Matra R550 Magic 1.
The Matra R550 Magic 2 is a French short-range, air-to-air missile developed by Matra infrared homing air-to-air missile. It is an advanced version of the original R550 Magic. Designed primarily for the French Air Force and Navy, this missile is renowned for its infrared homing guidance system, which is highly effective against heat-emitting targets, typically jet engines. The Magic 2 stands out for its improved countermeasures against electronic jamming and decoys like flares, making it more resistant to enemy defenses. It features an enhanced off-boresight capability, allowing pilots to engage targets that are not directly in front of their aircraft, thus offering greater tactical flexibility in dogfight scenarios. Initially deployed in various Mirage fighter jets, the Magic 2 has seen action in numerous conflicts, showcasing its reliability and combat effectiveness. Despite being surpassed by newer technologies, the Magic 2 remains a significant development in the history of air-to-air missile technology.
In game The Matra R550 Magic 2 missile is the best IR missile of the French Air tree, featuring very good manoeuvrability and a very strong IRCCM. It was was introduced during Update "Wind of Change".
Vehicles equipped with this weapon
- Mirage F1C
- Mirage F1CT
- Mirage F1C-200
- Mirage 2000C-S4
- Mirage 2000C-S5
- Mirage 2000D-R1
- Mirage 2000-5F
- Mirage 4000
|Lock range (rear-aspect)
|Lock range (all-aspect)
|Missile guidance time
|Explosive mass (TNT eq.)
Highest Explosive mass out of all short range missiles, making it quite good at dealing damage and reliably crippling and destroying enemies.
Comparison with analogues
Compared to competitors such as the R-60M or AIM-9L, the Magic 2 exerts a huge amount of force on itself due to the incredibly high thrust applied by its booster, thus meaning it has acceleration on par with missiles such as the PL-5B, a missile renowned for excellent flight performance.
Usage in battles
The Matra R550 Magic 2 works incredibly effectively as a short-range air-to-air missile, capable of pulling hard turns in very small distances.
At sea level, the Matra R550 Magic 2 is capable of destroying targets within 150 m to 2,500 m (assuming they're travelling directly away from your aircraft). This range is only attainable if the enemy aircraft does not manoeuvre - due to the Magic 2's G overload of 35G, it can pull incredibly high angle of attack (AoA) manoeuvres at the cost of its energy. Therefore, if an enemy performs a gentle turn the Matra R550 Magic 2 will burn a substantial proportion of its energy. Therefore, for a guaranteed kill, launching within 1.7 km of your target at sea level is recommended.
Of course at higher altitudes the Magic 2 performs substantially better. Because there is less air resistance at higher altitudes, missiles are capable of travelling substantially further than they can at sea level. At altitudes around 5,000 m, you can safely launch your Magic at an enemy plane travelling away from you at 3.5 km, assuming that plane is travelling at an almost identical speed to you. If they are travelling slower, then obviously you can launch at higher distances - this also applies to engagements at sea level. As well as this, due to planes struggling to be able to perform high G manoeuvres at higher altitudes (due to smaller amounts of air flow under the wings), the Magic 2 will always manage to out perform an enemy aircraft in turning performance so, if you're fighting a Mirage F1 at high altitudes, do not turn - cut your afterburner and drop a substantial amount of flares before turning to the left, right or down (do not go up, this only bleeds your energy further).
This also leads on nicely to another great feature of the Magic 2 - Infrared Counter-Countermeasures. Once fired, the FoV of the seeker will get substantially smaller, making the missile less susceptible at detecting Flares deployed by the target. Overall, it is very reliable when shot from side and rear aspects, and fired from as close as possible.
Pros and cons
- Very high overload factor
- Very high initial acceleration
- All-aspect missile, making it possible to shoot planes coming at you, and has an easier time locking enemies from the sides from further away
- Low motor burn time, meaning the enemy will only have 2 seconds to see the missile and react to it after it was fired. It then becomes invisible after the motor burnt out.
- Low motor burn time of 2 seconds, meaning it has a hard time hitting targets above 1.5 km when chasing
- Prone to flares when not in rear-aspect
- Loses energy quite fast once the motor finishes burning
The Magic 2 missile, an evolution of the R550 Magic, stands as a significant chapter in the history of aerial combat technology. Its journey from inception to combat usage mirrors the evolving challenges and demands of modern air warfare.
In the realm of missile technology, the Magic 2's story begins with its predecessor, the R550 Magic, developed by Matra, now part of MBDA. The original Magic, emerging in the early 1970s, was France's response to the American AIM-9 Sidewinder, designed as a short-range, infrared-guided missile adept at engaging enemy aircraft from various angles. However, as the landscape of aerial combat evolved, so too did the requirements for more advanced weaponry. This led to the development of the Magic 2 in the 1980s, a missile that embodied significant enhancements over its predecessor, particularly in its infrared homing capabilities and resistance to electronic countermeasures and decoys such as flares.
Technologically, the Magic 2 marked a leap forward. It featured a more advanced infrared seeker and boasted a wider-angle off-boresight capability, enabling pilots to target enemies not directly in front of their aircraft. This provided a substantial tactical advantage, offering greater flexibility and response options in combat scenarios.
In terms of combat deployment, the Magic 2 first found its place with the French Air Force and Navy, notably enhancing the capabilities of their Mirage fighter jets. Its operational reach extended through exports to various nations, cementing its role in global air defense systems. The missile's combat prowess was notably demonstrated in several conflicts, including the Gulf War, where French and Qatari Mirage fighters employed it with notable success. In these high-pressure environments, the Magic 2 proved its mettle, showcasing its reliability and effectiveness.
Yet, like any missile system, the Magic 2 had its limitations, particularly when faced with advanced electronic countermeasures and newer generation fighter aircraft. It was often compared with contemporaries like the American AIM-9 Sidewinder and the Russian R-73, with each system exhibiting unique strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, the Magic 2 maintained a competitive edge in off-boresight capability and counter-countermeasure technology.
The Magic 2's story doesn't end with its combat achievements. The rapid advancements in missile technology soon ushered in newer systems, but the groundwork laid by the Magic 2 in infrared missile guidance and ECCM capabilities significantly influenced future developments. As more advanced missiles like the MBDA MICA and the Meteor entered service, the role of the Magic 2 began to wane. However, its influence persists in the ongoing evolution of air-to-air missile technology.
Looking back, the R550 Magic 2 missile represents a pivotal phase in the transition of air-to-air missile technology. It bridged the gap between early infrared missiles and today's sophisticated systems. Its deployment and usage in combat significantly advanced the understanding of aerial warfare tactics and missile guidance technology, cementing its legacy as a key player in the history of military aviation.
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