Novator KS-172


KS-172 NTW - 94.jpg
Mockup of KS–172 in front of Su-30 in 1994
TypeLong range air-to-air missile
Place of originRussia/India
Production history
ManufacturerNPO Novator
Defence Research and Development Organisation
Mass748 kg (1,650 lb) (KS–172)[1]
Length6.01 m (19.7 ft) + 1.4 m (4.6 ft) (KS–172)[1]
Diameter40 cm (16 in) (KS–172)[1]
WarheadHE fragmentation (KS–172)[1]
Warhead weight50 kg (110 lb)

EngineTandem rocket booster (KS–172)[1]
Wingspan61 cm (24 in) (KS–172)[1]
PropellantSolid fuel
At least 200 km,[2] possibly 300–400 km (160–210 nmi)
Flight altitude3 m (9.8 ft)–30,000 m (98,000 ft) (KS–172)[1]
Maximum speed 4,000 km/h (2,500 mph; 1.1 km/s; Mach 3.3) (KS–172)[1]
Mid-course: Inertial navigation with mid-course guidance
Terminal: Active radar homing (KS–172)[1]
Su-27, Su-30, Su-35,[3] Su-30MKI,[1] Su-57 (expected)

The Novator KS-172 is a Russian air-to-air missile designed as an "AWACS killer"[4] at ranges up to 400 km. The missile has had various names during its history, including K-100, Izdeliye 172 ('project 172'), AAM-L (RVV-L), KS–172, KS-1, 172S-1 and R-172. The airframe appears to have been derived from the 9K37 Buk surface-to-air missile (SAM) but development stalled in the mid-1990s for lack of funds.[4] It appears to have restarted in 2004 after a deal with India, who wants to produce the missile in India for their Su-30MKI fighters. It is the heaviest air-to-air missile ever produced.


Modern airforces have become dependent on airborne radars typically carried by converted airliners and transport aircraft such as the E-3 Sentry and A-50 'Mainstay'. They also depend on similar aircraft for inflight refuelling (e.g. Vickers VC10), maritime patrol (e.g. CP-140 Aurora), reconnaissance and electronic warfare (e.g. Tu-16 'Badger' E & J) and C4ISTAR (e.g. VC-25 "Air Force One"). The loss of just one of these aircraft can have a significant effect on fighting capability, and they are usually heavily defended by fighter escorts. A long-range air-to-air missile offers the prospect of bringing down the target without having to fight a way through the fighter screen. Given the potential importance of "blinding" Western AWACS, Russia has devoted considerable resources to this area. The R-37 (missile) (AA-13 'Arrow') is an evolution of their R-33 (AA-9 'Amos') with a range of up to 400 km (220 nmi), and there have been persistent rumours – if little hard evidence – of an air-to-air missile with a range of 200 km (110 nmi) based on Zvezda's Kh-31 anti-radar/anti-shipping missile or its Chinese derivative, the YJ-91.

NPO Novator started work in 1991 on a very long-range air-to-air missile with the Russian project designation Izdeliye 172.[5] Initially called the AAM-L (RVV-L), it made its first public appearance at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi in early 1993,[6] followed by the Moscow Air Show later that year.[5] It was described as having a range of 400 km (220 nmi); the mockup on display had a strong resemblance to the 9K37M1 Buk-M (SA-11 'Gadfly'). Apparently some flight-testing was done on a Su-27, but it appears that the Russians withdrew funding for the project soon afterwards.

The missile resurfaced as the KS–172 in 1999,[6] as part of a new export-led strategy[7] whereby foreign investment in a 300 km (160 nmi)-range export model[6] would ultimately fund a version for the Russian airforce.[7] Again it appears that there were no takers.

In late 2003, the missile was offered again on the export market as the 172S-1.[5] In March 2004, India was reported to have invested in the project and to be "negotiating a partnership" to develop the "R-172".[8] In May 2005 the Indians were said to have finalised "an arrangement to fund final development and licence produce the weapon" in a joint venture similar to that which produced the successful BrahMos cruise missile.[9] Since then the missile has had a higher profile, appearing at the 2005 Moscow Air Show[5] on a Su-30 as the K-172,[4] and a modified version being shown at the 2007 Moscow Air Show designated as the K-100-1. This name first appeared in a Sukhoi document in 2006,[5] and sources such as Jane's now refer to the missile as the K-100.[5]


9B-1103M Seeker head

The mockup shown in 1993 had a strong resemblance to the Buk airframe, but since the Indians became involved there have been some changes. An Indian magazine gave the specifications of the KS–172 in April 2004 as a core 6.01 m long and 40 cm in diameter with a wingspan of 61 cm, with a booster of 1.4 m, and 748 kg total weight.[1] It had a solid fuel tandem rocket booster capable of speeds up to 4,000 km/h (2,500 mph), 12g manoevring, and an adaptive HE fragmentation warhead.[1] Development would concentrate on the seeker head, autopilot, resistance to jamming and a steering system with 3D thrust vector control (TVC).[1]

In May 2005 it was reported that there were two versions, with and without a rocket booster, with ranges of 400 km and 300 km respectively.[9] At the MAKS (air show) in August 2005, a range of 300 km was quoted for a streamlined missile with a small booster and fins on both booster and fuselage.[4] However the model shown at the 2007 MAKS airshow under the name K-100 was closer to the original 1993 mockup in the photo above, with different-shaped fins that were further up the fuselage, and an even larger booster with TVC vents.[10] At the same show it was shown under the wing of a Su-35BM, implying that at least two could be carried by Flanker-class aircraft rather than just one on the centreline.

Guidance is by inertial navigation until the missile is close enough to the target to use active radar for terminal homing.[1] The K-100 has an enlarged (350 mm (14 in)) derivative of the Agat 9B-1103M seeker used in the R-27 (air-to-air missile) (AA-10 'Alamo').[2] It has a lock-on range of 40 km (22 nmi), described by an Agat designer as "one fifth or less of the overall range".[2]


  • KS-172

Sketch-of-KS-172-missile 1993.svg

Prototype in 1993.
  • KS-172S-1

Sketch-of-KS-172S1-missile 2003.svg

Prototype in 2003.

Similar weapons

  • R-37 (missile) (AA-X-13/AA-13 'Arrow') was developed from the R-33 (missile) (AA-9 'Amos') and is intended for the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E, Sukhoi Su-37 Flanker-F, MiG 1.42 MFI and other future fighters.[9] According to Defence Today the range depends on the flight profile, from 80 nautical miles (150 km) for a direct shot[9] to 215 nautical miles (398 km) for a cruise glide profile.[9] Jane's reports two variants, the R-37 and the R-37M; the latter has a jettisonable rocket booster that increases the range to "300-400km" (160–220nmi).[3] Work on the missile appears to have restarted in late 2006,[3] as part of the MiG-31BM programme[3] to update the Foxhound with a new radar and ground attack capability.
  • Kh-31 (AS-17 'Krypton') – the Chinese have licensed the anti-radar version (Kh-31P) of this Russian air-to-surface missile, and may be working on an "AWACS killer" variant of their YJ-91 derivative.[9] The Russians claim the anti-shipping version, the Kh-31A, can be adapted for use as an AWACS killer.[9]
  • AIM-54 Phoenix – Now retired, a 100 nautical miles (190 km)-range missile that was carried by the US Navy's F-14 Tomcat.
  • AIM-97 Seekbat - based on the Standard Missile SAM, the Seekbat was an extremely long-ranged missile designed to shoot down the MiG-25 Foxbat, which at the time had almost mythical performance estimates. When the real-world performance of the Foxbat was found to be dramatically less impressive, development was cancelled.


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "India Starts Defence Exports : Joint Ventures Now yielding rich Dividends", FORCE magazine, Arun Vihar, India, vol. 1 no. 6, p. 55, April 2004
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, Reuben F (11 July 2007), "Russia develops K-100-1 for Su-35", Jane's Defence Weekly
  3. ^ a b c d "R-37, R-37M (AA-X-13) (Russian Federation), Air-to-air missiles – Beyond visual range", Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, Jane’s Information Group, 12 January 2009, archived from the original on 14 September 2008
  4. ^ a b c d Fisher, Richard (12 September 2005), Chinese Dimensions of the 2005 Moscow Aerospace Show, International Assessment and Strategy Center, archived from the original on 19 June 2015, retrieved 29 January 2009
  5. ^ a b c d e f "K-100 (Izdeliye 172, KS–172, AAM-L)", Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, 12 January 2009, archived from the original on 13 September 2008
  6. ^ a b c Saradzhyan, Simon; Barrie, Douglas (16 August 1999), "Russia Offers Extended Range Missile For Export", Defense News: 8
  7. ^ a b Battilega; et al. (2000), Transformations in Global Defense Markets and Industries: Implications for the Future of Warfare – Russia (PDF), National Intelligence Council, p. 12, archived from the original (PDF) on 14 January 2009, retrieved 29 January 2009
  8. ^ "India, Russia in talks for a new missile", The Times of India, India, Press Trust of India, 2 March 2004, archived from the original on 23 October 2012, retrieved 29 January 2009
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Missiles in the Asia Pacific" (PDF), Defence Today, Amberley, Queensland: Strike Publications: 67, May 2005, archived from the original (PDF) on 26 January 2009
  10. ^ See photos in "External links" section

External links

  • – unofficial site with photos from MAKS air show; photos 10,12 and 13 show the K-100 on the ground of which maks2007d1013.jpg is perhaps the best.