TOP 10 Air-To-Air Missiles:BVR MISSILES

TOP 10 Air-To-Air Missiles:BVR MISSILES


​The Saber Rattling Team mades an efforts to find the best available specifications and data to evaluate the top 10 BVR Air-to-Air capable missiles.we request everyone to please read the article fully & leave your valuable comment.

Beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM) are long-range missiles used by fighters to knock out enemy fighters, bombers, tankers, drones and other aircraft from ranges beyond 40km.


The PL-21 is the newest BVR missiles for Chinese 5th generation fighter J-20 having the world longest range of 400km. The new PL-21 said to be similar to the British Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM). PL-21 features 4 small stabilizing fins behind the active radar seeker. Two-way datalink antennas may be installed in the tail section for mid-course correction. The effective range of PL-21 is expected to be greater than 300km. The missile might be carried by the new J-11B and J-20 fighters for a long-range interception.

AIM 120 C

The AIM-120 AMRAAM is a medium-range; air-to-air missile. It is an all-weather, missile manufactured by Raytheon. The AMRAAM is in service with the US Air Force (USAF), US Navy (USN), and over 25 US-allied nations. The AIM C has been steadily upgraded since it was introduced. The AIM-120C-6 contained an improved fuse (Target Detection Device) compared to its predecessor. The AIM-120C-7 development began in 1998 and included improvements in homing and greater range.

The missile’s layout is divided into guidance, armament, propulsion, and control sections. The missile has home-on-jamming capabilities. It can travel at speeds of Mach 4 and has a range of more than 100Km. The AIM-120C has smaller control surfaces to fulfill F/A-22’s internal carriage requirements and also features an improved warhead. 
The AIM-120 AMRAAM receives information about the location of the target from the aircraft before its launch. The onboard active radar with an inertial navigation system (INS) makes the missile less dependent on the aircraft’s fire control radar and integrates a data link to guide the missile. Once the missile closes to self-homing distance, the active radar guides it towards the target. This feature provides fire and forgets capability to the missile and allows the pilot to fire a number of missiles simultaneously at multiple targets.

The AMRAAM P3I (Pre-Planned Product Improvement) program led to the AIM-120C, first delivered in 1996. The major new feature of the basic AIM-120C (P3I Phase 1) is the clipped wings and fins. Although this feature was introduced to allow carriage in the internal weapons bays of the F/A-22 Raptor, the -120C can also be used from other AMRAAM-capable aircraft. The guidance unit of the AIM-120C is upgraded to the WGU-44/B standard. The first P3I Phase 2 missile is the AIM-120C-4 (first delivered in 1999), which has an improved WDU-41/B warhead. The AIM-120C-5 is a C-4 with a slightly larger motor in the new WPU-16/B propulsion section and a new shorter WCU-28/B control section with compressed electronics and ECCM upgrades. Deliveries of the AIM-120C-5 began in July 2000. It was followed on the production line by the AIM-120C-6, which features an updated TDD (Target Detection Device). The AIM-120C-7 (P3I Phase 3), development of which has begun in 1998, incorporates improved ECCM with jamming detection, an upgraded seeker, and longer range. The latter feature was specifically requested by the U.S. Navy to get a (somewhat) suitable replacement for the AIM-54 Phoenix very-long range missile, which was then planned to be retired together with the F-14D Tomcat around 2007 (actual official retirement was already in September 2004). The AIM-120C-7 was successfully tested against combat-realistic targets in August and September 2003, and IOC was then planned for 2004. This has slipped somewhat, but as of early 2006; the AIM-120C-7 is beginning to be fielded.

R 77

The Vympel NPO R-77 missile is a Russian medium-range, active radar homing air-to-air missile system. The R-77 has the ability to engage multiple airborne threats simultaneously thanks to its fire and forget capability. There are other versions fitted with infrared and passive radar seekers instead of active radar homing. Future plans call for increasing the missile range well beyond 150 kilometers. Currently it has an 80Km range. It has speed of Mach 4 and can operate at altitudes as 25000 m high.

The R-77 has been designed with innovative control surfaces which are one of the keys to its impressive performance. Once launched, the R-77 depends on an inertial navigation system with optional in-flight target position updates from the aircraft sensors. When the R-77 missile is at a distance of about 20 km its radar homing head activates leading the missile to its target. The R-77’s multi-purpose target engagement capabilities and resistance against countermeasures are among the best in the world. It is launched from the AKU-170E launch unit aboard the aircraft.

The R-77 carries a 22.5kg multi-shaped charge rod type warhead. An inertial/radio-corrected navigation system guides the missile during the initial flight phase, while a multi-function doppler-monopulse active radar seeker is employed in the terminal phase.

R77 uses large strakes for lift enhancement, and unique lattice tail controls. The R-77P uses the 9B-1032 X-band anti-radiation seeker. A rocket-ramjet variant of the missile has been in development since the 1990s, as a counter to the EU Meteor. Designated the RVV-AE-PD, and often labeled the R-77M.


Details of this missile are hardly available.
The Mitsubishi AAM-4 is a medium-range active radar homing air-to-air missile. AAM-4B was the world’s first air-to-air missile with an AESA radar seeker.  It has a range of 120 Km. it uses inertial guidance, mid-course update terminal active radar homing as guidance. It can cruise at speeds of above Mach 4.

AAM 4B has a greatly improved data link than the older missiles. It also has the multi-target capability. This advanced missile has the ability to lock on before and after launch capability. Japanese experts say it is more capable than Russian R-77. 


The MICA (Missile interception, de Combat et d’Autodéfense) is a short- and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM system developed by MBDA for the Rafale and advanced variants of Mirage 2000 combat aircraft.
The system includes two variants – MICA (EM) RF featuring an active radio frequency seeker and MICA IR featuring a dual waveband imaging infrared seeker to defeat enemy countermeasures. A surface-launched version, named VL MICA, is also available for use by naval or ground-based air defense systems.
The guidance section, mounted in the nose section, consists of a strap-down inertial reference unit, data link, passive imaging IR seeker, and active RF mono-pulse Doppler seeker. The strap-down inertial reference unit is installed to determine attitude and heading information, while the data link carries the updated target information from the carrier aircraft to the missile. The active RF, mono-pulse Doppler seeker provides the MICA RF with shoot-up / shoot-down capability in all weather conditions. It is capable of operating in lock-on before launch and lock-on after launch modes. An infrared search and track (IRST) system in the seeker allows the missile to autonomously detect, track and lock-on the targets.

The missile’s high-explosive warhead is triggered by RF proximity fuse, direct impact fuse, and focused splinters. Its lightweight and compact dimensions allow for the integration of up to six missiles on medium to lightweight fighters.

MICA missile features a lightweight, compact design with long chord wings. Four control surfaces are located on its tail to provide high speed and improved aerodynamic capabilities, and thrust-vectoring vanes to enhance post-launch turn rates. MICA uses midcourse inertial guidance with datalink updates, and RF and impact fusing. The active homing variant, the MICARF, is equipped with a monopulse pulse-Doppler seeker. Target designation for the missile is provided by electro-optical sensors, radar, and helmet-mounted sight. Indian and Taiwanese Mirage 2000 aircraft carry MICA variants.
It is powered by a low-smoke solid propellant with high impulse. A thrust vector control system coupled to tail control surfaces provides high maneuverability. It can be fired from the aircraft at maximum g and maximum angle of attack. Its stealth, multi-shoot, and first-shot, first-kill capabilities provide increased firepower for lightweight fighters. MICA’s minimum and maximum operating ranges are 500m and 60km respectively.


Astra is an active radar homing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM)developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India. With the development of Astra India joined in a handful of countries like the US, Russia, France and Israel which have developed such sleek missiles capable of detecting, tracking, and destroying highly-agile hostile supersonic fighters packed with “counter-measures” at long ranges.

The highly agile, accurate, and reliable missile features high single-shot kill probability (SSKP) and is capable of operating under all weather conditions. The length of the weapon system is 3.8m, while its diameter is 178mm, and an overall launch weight is160kg. Its low all-up weight provides high launch range capability and the system’s airborne launcher can be used with different fighter aircraft.  It is intended to engage and destroy aerial targets with high maneuverability and supersonic speeds. The missile’s advanced air combat capabilities allow it to engage multiple high-performance targets.

The missile guidance is provided by a terminal active radar-seeker and an updated mid-course internal guidance system, which locates and tracks targets. On-board electronic counter-measures jam radar signals from enemy radar, making tracking of the missile difficult. The ECCM (electronic counter-counter measure) features of the missile make it able to overcome almost any kind of jamming. It is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets (up to 20 km) and long-range targets (up to 80 km).
It uses a smokeless propulsion system to evade enemy radars and has the capacity to engage in a multi-target scenario. Astra can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km, 44 km when launched from an altitude of 8 km and 21 km when fired from sea level.  A smokeless
The highly agile, accurate, and reliable missile features high single-shot kill probability (SSKP) and is capable of operating under all weather conditions. It also has the capacity to engage in a multi-target scenario.
Astra using HTPB (solid-fuel) as fuel. With this high-energy propellant, it has the capability to follow fighters who can do complicated maneuvers. HTPB is a non-metalized high-specific impulse propellant developed for the rocket motor. The missile’s maximum speed is Mach 4.5+ and can attain a maximum altitude of 20 km. The missile can handle 40 g turns near sea level while attacking a maneuvering target. It can be launched in both autonomous and buddy mode (a Su 30 MKI can launch the Astra from long range and a nearby friendly aircraft can update the missile to the correct path) operation and can achieve lock-on on its target before or after it is launched.

The dual-mode guidance consists of an upgraded mid-course internal and active radar terminal homing systems. It allows the Astra BVR missile to locate and track targets at different altitudes. The weapon system is equipped with a high-explosive pre-fragmented warhead that weighs 15kg. A radio proximity fuse (RPF) developed by HAL activates the warhead. This RPF weighs approximately 2.5kg and has a detection range of up to 30m, a detonation range of 15m, and a missile target velocity between 100m/s and 1,600m/s.


The Derby is the Israeli equivalent to the US AIM-120, drawing extensively on the technology developed for the Python 4. The Derby uses an improved higher impulse derivative of the Python 4 motor, a Python 4 warhead, a fusing system, and other components. The active radar seeker, inertial midcourse and datalink package are new; the canard controls and roll stabilization vanes are derived from the Python 4. The canard design was used to provide the missile with good close-in performance. Derby has a range of 50 Km, it uses active radar homing and can travel at speeds of Mach 4.
The Derby is equipped with an active radar seeker to provide the missile a ‘fire and forget’ engagement capability, beyond visual range and under all weather conditions. Derby missile has multi-shot engagement air-launched platforms. With the sensor and its signal processing algorithms the missile enables look-down/shoot-down capability, and advanced operating modes, adding to the ‘fire and forget’. Derby also has excellent ECCM capability

I-Derby-ER is the extended range version of the Derby that increases range to 100 km. To achieve greater range, a dual-pulse solid rocket motor is added, where the secondary pulse of energy as the missile nears the target extends flight time. It also combines the seeker and fuse into an integrated sensor and fusing system to make room for the new motor. For the I-Derby RAFAEL utilized a new, Software Defined Active Radar seeker (SDR), based on combat-proven seeker developed by RAFAEL. The new seeker is lighter and more compact than its predecessor, paving the way to augment its propulsion system for the terminal phase. The SDR technology is a significant addition since the missile seeker software can be upgraded such as duty cycles and processing techniques, new waveforms, addressing new threats, countermeasures and techniques that may evolve during the lifespan of the missile. Derby ER has the ability to lock onto targets before and after launch, enabling the weapon to engage targets at all ranges. Lock-on after launch mode is for long-range engagements in which the missile employs inertial guidance immediately after launch until the seeker is activated and homes in on the target. In the lock-on before launch for short-range engagements, Derby’s seeker can be slaved to the aircraft’s radar or the pilot’s helmet mounted cueing system. The seeker is activated before launch and guides the missile all the way to the target.

PL – 15

The PL-15 is developed by the 607 Institute. It is the replacement for China’s current BVRAAM, the radar-guided, PL-12. Compared to the PL-12, the PL-15 has an improved active radar seeker and jam-resistant data links, along with a dual pulse rocket motor to extend its range. PL 15 has a belly intake and a rocket boost motor along with a ramjet sustainer motor, making it one of the longest-ranged AAMs in the world at present.  PL 15 is comparable to American AIM-120D.

 PL-15 also features an improved guidance system including duplex data link and new active/passive dual-mode seeker with enhanced ECCM capability. The missile is thought to have a new dual pulse rocket motor in favor of a ramjet engine, giving it not only a longer range of 210km but also a relatively small body size. It appears PL-15 has superseded the PL-12 series as the primary LRAAM for the stealth fighters of China in development. It is also speculated to fly a semi-ballistic trajectory similar to American AIM-54 in order to achieve an extra long-range (range>300km, speed>Mach 4, cruising altitude 30km). Before the launch the missile must obtain the target information via data link from an AWACS, land-based long-range radar, or even a satellite. The launch aircraft disengages right after releasing the missile. After the initial ascent stage, the missile may use Beidou/GPS+INS+datalink guidance during the mid-course cruising stage. At the terminal diving stage, in combination with the AESA seeker, it may also use an IIR seeker as indicated by a small optical window in its nose, which further increases its kill probability amid severe jamming.

DRDO K-100

Novator DRDO K-100 is a Russian air-to-air missile designed as an “AWACS killer” at ranges up to 400 km. It is a radar homing missile having a speed of Mach 3.3. It can fly at Max altitude of 30000 m. It used on IAF Su 30 MKI and RuAF Su 35. The airframe is based in 9k37 Buk surface to air missile and is equipped with inertial guidance and terminal active radar homing. It is the heaviest air-to-air missile ever produced.

The development of this missile delayed many times and staled in 1990. This project restarted in 2004 after a deal with India. It used a two-stage rocket engine. K 100 flies to the vicinity of the target by inertial navigation and then activates its own active radar for terminal homing. K 100 attacks its Targets with an adaptive high explosive (HE) fragmentation warhead. The K-100 has an enlarged (350 mm (14 in)) derivative of the Agat 9B-1103M seeker used in the Vympel R-27. It has a lock-on range of 40 km.  This missile can pull out 12g (probably even better) maneuvering. K 100 also has advanced features like autopilot, resistance to jamming, and a steering system with 3D thrust vector control (TVC).

A combined Gas/AeroDynamic Control system is used for 3d TVC. 3D TVC Provides High Maneuverability irrespective of launch Conditions and allows for missile launch with AC in super Maneuverability flight mode. Adaptive Rapid Reaction Autopilot Which Optimizes with Missile Stabilization and control Parameters within the firing range. A Special Interaction Logic between the KS-100 Explosive Fuse and Guidance system is using In addition to structural and configuration features, which guarantees absolute immunity of the Warhead detonation system to Jamming.

K 100 flies to the vicinity of the target by inertial navigation and then activates its own active radar for terminal homing. It also has a Secure Data-Linked Based Inertial Navigation System for Midcourse Guidance (This would probably be done by AWACS or the 2-3 MKIs Working in Tandem with their Mini AWACS Capability). 

AIM 120 D

AIM-120D (originally designated AIM-120C8), is a development of the AIM-120C with a two-way data link, improved navigation using a GPS-enhanced Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), an expanded no-escape envelope, improved high-angle off-bore sight capability + a 50% increase in range. Production of the AIM-120D commenced in 2006 with the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase completed in September 2009. In April 2015, the AIM-120D achieved initial operational capability (IOC).  The range advantage over its predecessor AIM 10 C is enormous despite the lack of new missile body or rocket motor (50% greater range than the already-extended range AIM-120C-7). AIM-120D has new software to make it survivable against new forms of electronic attack. Aim 120 Ds better guidance over its entire flight envelope yielding an improved kill probability.

The AIM-120 AMRAAM uses the same engine as AIM-120C, with improvements being mainly in electronics.  It is powered by a high-performance rocket motor using reduced smoke HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene) propellant. The motor is housed in a WPU-6/B propulsion unit. 120 D has a range of more than 160 Km. it has a speed of Mach 4 and uses an active radar homing seeker along with an inertial guidance system.


Meteor is the next generation of Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) system designed to revolutionize air-to-air combat in the 21st Century. The weapon brings together six nations with a common need to defeat the threats of today as well as the future emerging ones developed by MBDA.

Guided by an advanced active radar seeker, Meteor provides the all-weather capability to engage a wide variety of targets from agile fast jets to small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and cruise missiles. It is designed to meet the most stringent requirements and is capable of operating in the most severe clutter and countermeasure environments.
The weapon is also equipped with data link communication. Aimed at meeting the needs of a network-centric environment, Meteor can be operated using third party data, enabling the Meteor user – the pilot – to have the most flexible weapon system. Using the data link means that target information updates while the missile is already streaking towards its quarry. Re-targeting data can even come from a third party—i.e., from a platform other than the launch aircraft. The data link is capable of transmitting information such as kinematic status. It also notifies target acquisition by the seeker.
The Meteor is installed with an active radar target seeker, offering high reliability in detection, tracking, and classification of targets. The missile also integrates an inertial measurement system (IMS). It uses the AD4A (Active Anti-Air Seeker) family of seekers.
Meteor’s stunning performance is achieved through its unique ramjet propulsion system – solid fuel, variable flow, ducted rocket. This ‘ramjet’ motor provides the missile with thrust all the way to target intercept, providing the largest No-Escape Zone of any air-to-air missile.

The weapon’s electronics and propulsion control unit (ECPU) calculates the appropriate cruise speed depending on the launch condition and the target’s altitude and adjusts the ramjet’s air intake and duct covers accordingly. The distance that the Meteor has to fly is unknown as yet–the target may be maneuvering, for instance. The ECPU monitors that distance and the missile’s remaining fuel. When the range to go indicates that the missile won’t run out of fuel if it accelerates, the throttle is fully opened to maximize the intercept speed. If the target is at maximum range, there will be little if any acceleration.
The missile has a range in excess of 100km. Meteor is estimated to have a range of 250-300 km with a ballistic flight path.  It is designed for a speed greater than Mach 4. The missile has a large no escape zone (almost 60 Km). The missile trajectory is controlled aerodynamically using four rear-mounted fins. Meteor’s control principles are intended to allow high turn rates while maintaining intake and propulsion performance.
The missile, being designed as a complete unit, requires no assembly and maintenance immediately before loading. This arrangement reduces its overall life logistic support cost.

Meteor can be launched as a stealth missile. It is equipped with enhanced kinematics features. It is capable of striking different types of targets simultaneously in almost any weather. To ensure total target destruction, the missile is equipped with both impact and proximity fuses and a fragmentation warhead that detonates on impact or at the optimum point of intercept to maximize lethality.

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