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The R-73 (NATO reporting name: AA-11 Archer) is a Soviet infrared homing air-to-air missile introduced in the Update "La Royale". It serves as an advanced infrared-guided Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) in the game and has been the preferred missile for Soviet/Russian jets since the mid-1980s. Additionally, it has been adopted by countries that received its export version, the R-73E, including Mainland China and East Germany.

Boasting one of the highest overload capacities among infrared AAMs and equipped with Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCM) capabilities, the R-73 instils fear and prompts second thoughts in enemy jet pilots before engaging with aircraft armed with this missile.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

R-73E (Export)

General info

The R-73, a Soviet infrared Air-to-Air Missile (IR AAM), became operational in 1982 and entered service by 1984, designed as a successor to the outdated R-60 (NATO reporting name: AA-8 Aphid). Notably, it marked a significant advancement in Soviet missile technology, being the first in its class to incorporate thrust vectoring, High Off Boresight (HOB) capabilities, and the ability to withstand forces up to 40 G.

This missile was engineered to address the limitations of its predecessor and enhance the combat effectiveness of Soviet/Russian fighter jets. The incorporation of thrust vectoring allowed for improved manoeuvrability, enabling the missile to change direction rapidly during flight. The High Off Boresight capabilities enable the R-73 to engage targets even when not directly in its line of sight, offering increased flexibility in combat scenarios.

Missile characteristics
Mass 105
Guidance IR
Aspect All-aspects
Lock range (rear-aspect) 11 km
Lock range (all-aspect) 3.4 km
Launch range 30km
Maximum speed 2.5 M
Maximum overload 40 G
Missile guidance time 25 sec
Explosive mass 5.96 kg TNTeq

Effective damage

The R-73 is equipped with a payload of 5.96 kg TNTeq. It can destroy almost every plane in one hit.

Comparison with analogues

  • Python 3/PL-8 - Israeli/Chinese (licensed) IR AAM at higher speed, long guidance time and explosive content; while having shorter head-on range and being heavy.
  • R-60M(K) - USSR/Eastern Block IR AAM is the predecessor to the R-73 with limited range and speed but is very light.
  • AIM-9L - US/NATO standard IR AAM with very long guidance time; while having lesser overload, head-on range and explosive content.
  • AIM-9M - AIM-9L-based Missile equipped with an advanced heat seeker which has IRCCM capabilities and a Low/reduced smoke motor.
  • AAM-3 - Japanese advanced IR AAM with with an advanced heat seeker which has IRCCM capabilities and a low/reduced smoke motor; while having the same overload factor and roughly the same range.
  • Magic 2 - French standard IR AAM with higher explosive content, slightly more guidance time and flies faster; while having a slightly less overload and head-on range.
Missile Characteristics AIM-9M R-73 R-60M Magic 2 AIM-9L
Mass 84 kg 105 kg 44 kg 89 kg 84 kg
Guidance IR IR IR IR IR
Aspect All-Aspect All-Aspect All-Aspect All-Aspect All-Aspect
Seeker Head Uncaged (radar slavable) Uncaged (radar slavable) Uncaged (radar slavable) Uncaged (radar slavable) Uncaged (radar slavable)
Lock range (rear-aspect) 11 km 11 km 7.4km 6 km 11 km
Lock range (all-aspect) 3 km 3.4 km 2 km 3 km 3 km
ECCM Yes Yes No Yes No
ECCM Type Suspended Animation FOV Gating - FOV Gating -
Thrust Vectoring No Yes No No No
Launch range 18 km 30 km 10 km 10 km 18 km
Maximum speed 2.5 M 2.5 M 2.5 M 3 M 2.5 M
Maximum overload 30 G 40 G 30 G 35 G 30 G
Missile guidance time 60 sec 25 sec 25 sec 25 sec 60 sec
Explosive Mass 4.06 kg TNTeq 5.96 kg TNTeq 1.35 kg TNTeq 9.6kg TNTeq 4.06 kg TNTeq

Usage in battles

The R-73 is famous for its thrust vectoring, advanced heat seeker with ECCM capabilities, and its very high overload factor and slightly longer head-on range than its NATO counterparts. With such features, if players can make sure their missiles lock onto the target instead of its flares and lead enough for the seeker, the R-73 has a very high chance of taking down the target in one take without another round, which could be fatal in a heated battlefield.

Pros and cons


  • High G overload factor (40G)
  • Equipped with ECCM
  • Thrust Vectoring for sharper turns


  • Flies slower than NATO counterparts
  • Heavier to NATO counterparts albeit lighter than Python-3/PL-8
  • Relatively less explosive content than some counterparts


After observing the advancements in Western short-range infrared (IR) missile development during the early 1970s, exemplified by the AIM-9L (later followed by the AIM-9M), and their success in combat, particularly the Sidewinder's role in Middle Eastern conflicts arming Israeli aircraft, the Soviet Union recognized the limitations of their own "Dogfight missiles" like the R-60 and R-60M. These Soviet missiles faced challenges, primarily in terms of range and flare resistance. Motivated to bridge the gap, the Soviet Union embarked on developing a new class of missiles that would amalgamate the strengths of both Dogfight missiles (such as the SRAAM and R-60) and contemporary short-range missiles like the AIM-9 Sidewinder and R-13M.

In response to a directive from the Soviet government, Vympel OKB initiated development in 1973 to create a new generation, all-aspect "Kill on sight" missile, designated Izdeliye 730 (Project 730). This missile aimed to combine the high manoeuvrability and instantaneous tracking of older dogfight missiles with the reliable range and tracking capabilities of short-range missile designs. The R-73 emerged as the first air-to-air missile to incorporate a hybrid control system, utilizing thrust vectoring for high angles of attack and instantaneous manoeuvring, along with conventional aerodynamic controls through fins and destabilizers. This innovative design not only improved manoeuvrability over older models like the R-60M but also allowed for a larger size, accommodating more fuel and a stronger motor to achieve ranges comparable to contemporary missiles like the AIM-9L.

The second aspect of the "Kill on sight" missile doctrine was the development of a helmet-mounted targeting system, which allowed the missile's seeker to target "High off-boresight" without requiring the aircraft to manoeuvre and position the target within the missile's seeker, providing a significant advantage in dogfights. Project 730, culminating in the R-73 missile, was completed in 1982 after almost a decade of development and immediately entered trials.[1]

Close-up image of an R-73 missile mounted on the outer pylon (Station 4) of an upgraded MiG-21 prototype demonstrator, on static ground display during the 1999 MAKS airshow. There is a R-77 visible on the inner pylon (Station 3)
R-73 Missile on display at MAKS 1999

Following successful trials, the R-73 officially entered service in 1984, receiving the NATO reporting name AA-11 Archer. Shortly thereafter, an export variant (R-73E) was produced and sold to most allies of the USSR operating the new MiG-29 fighters. The R-73 became a staple in Soviet (and later Russian) missile design, evolving into numerous variants to modify and improve its performance, including the R-73L and the most recent R-74M1.

In 1990, after Germany's reunification, the Luftwaffe inherited a surplus of ex-East German MiG-29 aircraft, along with stockpiles of R-73 missiles. A dissimilar air combat training in 1994 between USAF F-16As aircraft and Luftwaffe MiG-29s showcased the overwhelming superiority of the German MiG-29s, equipped with the R-73 and helmet-cued targeting. This revelation prompted the realization that the R-73 possessed better manoeuvrability, tracking, and seeker acquisition than contemporary NATO missiles (AIM-9L and AIM-9M).[2] The US and NATO countries, recognizing the need for advanced counterparts, subsequently developed missiles such as the AIM-9X, AIM-132 ASRAAM, IRIS-T, and the MICA Infrarouge.


Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.

See also

Related Development

External links

Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:

  • topic on the official game forum;
  • other literature.


  1. Gordon, Yefim. Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons Since World War Two, Midland Publishing, 2004.
  2. Menon, KB., Evolution of the Air-To-Air Missiles: Options for the IAF", IDR Publishing, 2012

AAM  AIM-54A Phoenix · AIM-54C Phoenix · ATAS (AIM-92) · AIM-120A · AIM-120B
Sparrow  AIM-7C · AIM-7D · AIM-7E · AIM-7E-2 · AIM-7F · AIM-7M
Sidewinder  AIM-9B · AIM-9C · AIM-9D · AIM-9E · AIM-9G · AIM-9H · AIM-9J · AIM-9L · AIM-9M · AIM-9P
AGM  AGM-22 · APKWS II (M151) · APKWS II (M282) · BGM-71D TOW-2
Bullpup  AGM-12B Bullpup · AGM-12C Bullpup
Hellfire  AGM-114B Hellfire · AGM-114K Hellfire II
Maverick  AGM-65A · AGM-65B · AGM-65D
TOW  BGM-71 · BGM-71A · BGM-71B · BGM-71C
SAM  FIM-92 Stinger · MIM-72 · MIM146
Naval SAM  RIM-24A
AAM  AIM-9B FGW.2 Sidewinder · Flz Lwf 63/80
AGM  9M14M Malyutka · Flz Lwf LB 82 · HOT-1 · HOT-2 TOW · HOT-3 · PARS 3 LR
AShM  AS.34 Kormoran
SAM  Roland
Naval SAM  Strela-2M
AAM  9M39 Igla · R-3R · R-3S · R-13M1 · R-23R · R-23T · R-24R · R-24T · R-27ER(1) · R-27ET(1) · R-27R(1) · R-27T(1) · R-60 · R-60M · R-60MK · R-73(E) · R-77
AGM  9K127 Vikhr · 9M17M Falanga · 9M120 Ataka · 9M120-1 Ataka
  Kh-23M · Kh-25 · Kh-25ML · Kh-29L · Kh-29T · Kh-29TE · Kh-29TD · Kh-66 · S-25L
ATGM  3M7 · 9M14 · 9M113 Konkurs · 9M114 Shturm · 9M123 Khrizantema · 9M133 · 9M133FM3 · 9M133M-2
SAM  95Ya6 · 9M311 · 9M311-1M · 9M331 · 9M37M
Naval SAM  Volna-M
AAM  Fireflash · Firestreak · Red Top · Skyflash · Skyflash SuperTEMP · SRAAM · R-Darter
AGM  AS.12 · ZT-6 Mokopa
AShM  AJ.168
ATGM  BAe Swingfire · MILAN · MILAN 2 · ZT3
SAM  Starstreak
AAM  AAM-3 · AAM-4
AGM  Ki-148 I-Go Model 1B
ATGM  Type 64 MAT · Type 79 Jyu-MAT
SAM  Type 81 SAM-1C · Type 91
AAM  PL-2 · PL-5B · PL-5C · PL-7 · PL-8 · TY-90 · PL-12
AGM  AKD-9 · AKD-10 · HJ-8A · HJ-8C · HJ-8E · HJ-8H
ATGM  302 · HJ-73 · HJ-73E · HJ-9 · QN201DD · QN502CDD
AAM  Aspide-1A
Naval AShM  Nettuno
SAM  Mistral SATCP
AAM  AA-20 Nord · Matra R511 · Matra R530 · Matra R530E · Matra Super 530D · Matra Super 530F · Matra R550 Magic 1 · Matra R550 Magic 2 · Mistral · MICA-EM
AGM  9M14-2 Malyutka-2 · AS-20 Nord · AS-30 Nord · AS-30L Nord · HOT-1 · HOT-2 TOW · HOT-3 · Spike ER
SAM  Roland · VT1
AAM  RB24 · RB24J · RB71 · RB 74 · RB 74(M) · RB 99
AGM  Rb05A · RB 53 Bantam · RB 55B Heli TOW · RB 55C Heli TOW · RB 75
ATGM  Rbs 55 · Rbs 56
SAM  Rbs 70
AAM  Shafrir · Shafrir 2 · Python 3 · Derby
ATGM  Spike-LR2 · Spike-MR
  AAM = Air-to-Air Missile   AGM = Air-to-Ground Missile   AShM = Anti-Ship Missile   ATGM = Anti-Tank Guided Missile (Ground mounts)   SAM = Surface-to-Air Missile