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R-23 / R-24

In the mid-1960s the Vympel design bureau developed the K-23 intermediate-range missile for MiG-23 fighter jet aircraft. While the first units of the K-23 missile were tested with the prototypes the MiG-23 aircraft, the missile was certified as a weapon for the MiG-23M in 1973. The R-23 comes in two variants: R-23R (Object 340) with radar guidance and R-23T (Object 360) with infrared guidance. There is also the training version R-23UT.

The later MiG-23ML and MiG-23MLD aircraft carry the R-24 missile, a modification of the R-23 with various improved characteristics, most importantly a 50 km rather than 35 km range. In its external appearance this missile is similar to the predecessor R-23. For actual use it is available in two variants: R-24R (Object 140) and R-24T (Object 160).

The R-23 is produced in Romania under license as the A-911.

In 1968 the Soviets acquired an American AIM-7M Sparrow, which was similar to the R-23 class of missiles the under development, and the Vympel team copyied the Sparrow under the designation K-25. Several of these missiles were tested, but Soviet R-23 missile was sent to production, and work on the K-25 ended in 1971. The R-23 and R-24 missiles were superior to the K-25 Sparrow-ski in versatility and range, as well as interference immunity, signal processing logic, and other characteristics. Nevertheless, analysis of the Sparrow missile design were helpful in later work on the the R-27 missile: on its hydraulically driven closed-loop servomechanisms and aerodynamic system with movable wings.


Year 1975
Type medium-range missile
Modifications Semi-active radar guidance
Passive infra-red guidance
Wingspan 1.0 m
Length (SAR version) 4.5 m
Length (IR version) 4.2 m
Diameter 0.22 m
Launch weight 320 kg
Max. speed 3420 km/h (Mach=3.0)
Maximum range (SAR version) 35 km
Maximum range (IR version) 15 km
Propulsion two stage solid propellant rocket motor
Guidance semi-active radar homing or passive infra-red homing
Warhead proximity-fuzed high-explosive, 40 kg
Carried by MiG-23
Service USSR, Czechoslovakia, Libya, India, East Germany.

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