Ozzy Blizzard

New Member
i was just wondering how these two missiles shape up. they're both look down shoot down capable right? Why did the RAF and RAAF go with ASRAAM? Is the USAF going with AIM 9X? Whats the differance in detection ranges, acuracy, payload and range? What's the better system?

Kurt Plummer

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Taking AIM...

Ozzy Blizzard said:
i was just wondering how these two missiles shape up. they're both look down shoot down capable right? Why did the RAF and RAAF go with ASRAAM? Is the USAF going with AIM 9X? Whats the differance in detection ranges, acuracy, payload and range? What's the better system?
ASRAAM has a 6.6" body diameter and weighs almost 30lbs more as a fuction of being fitted with a 1990's generation motor while AIM-9X uses existing (AIM-9L/M) stocks of 1970's tech base, 5.27", Mk.36 motors.

They both have the same ex-Hughes 128X128 element FPA but the U.S. gimbal and seeker processing is 'different' (more ranges, more computer time = superior resolution and IRCCM) as a function of supplying some 110` of HOBS capability compared to the nominally 60` of the British weapon.

OTOH, at least /initially/ the ASRAAM possessed an IMU which the AIM-9X did not, allowing to come to a drastically new heading and/or lock on after launch. Reflecting their (more honest) desire to keep the fight in front of the nose rather than going 'round and 'round a circle.

Currently, the AIM-9X is undergoing a second production block upgrade refit of a new IMU and also has dead-space in the body duct available to it for a digital tether which should allow us to switch tactics as soon as the user services get less jittery about throwing out 'maddog' (shake it up in a sack and who knows whom it will grab when you open the bag) rounds without positive engagement control.

As to how it got there, well....The way it was 'Esplaned to me Lucy' was that the Brits took so long in their whitepaper search for the perfect weapon that a combined conspiracy of NIH commercial interests and service technical lab mistrust of their competency led the U.S. to back out of the AMRAAM/ASRAAM MOU for international coproduction.

The official excuse being 'We wanted a race horse, they designed a camel'.

The Brits, unchained from U.S. rail/interface compatibility issue and stinging from hurt pride syndrome besides went back to their drawing boards and came up with a superior weapon that now is the fastest SRM on the planet (Mach 3.5++, some say Mach 4) thanks to the monster motor and a pre-cooled synthetic saphire seeker dome.

Meanwhile, through a series of classified seeker programs and the notorious 'box office/boa' effort to engineer the last drop of 'lowered drag, higher AOA excursion' performance out of the existing AIM-9 series, the U.S. managed to create a weapon which looks like neither and incorporates an SFPA and tail controls.

This reflecting our jolly flyboys continued preference for turn and burn maneuver and 'confidence' in the ability of AMRAAM to handle the outer merge fight (6-8nm, 90% NEZ, 60` boresight) with it's own bigger-than-ASRAAM, 1980's, 7" motor.

This allowing the AIM-9X to function solely as a gapfiller on leaker threats. Or a rail filler on jets which cannot themselves mount the heavier AIM-120 outboard (cough, Hornet).

On the sly, this is all a quiet acknowledgement that we bought the cheapest solution (the Raytheon version had the Israeli ND-10 motor from their Pythons and a 256X256 array seeker in a complex 'steering chisel' frontend) possible and now are determined to make the best of it.

Mind you, avoiding dogfights like the plague may be a good thing in and of itself given our jets are so large and generally such poor point-and-click (high alpha pointing abilities) machines that we _really_ shouldn't bring matters to a full WVR fight, regardless.

But the fact remains that the AIM-9X is described as a 20km seeker on a 10km missile while the AIM-132/ASRAAM is stated to be a 'full 20:20' system.

The perfect example of which is a routine exercise 4-5 years ago in which Tornado F.3s up in Alaska or Canada I think it was used a combination of ASRAAM and RHAWS+MIDS to break past a Wall Of Eagles+AMRAAM defense to score an AWACS kill on a suicide sprint basis of engagement. Gave the USAF quite a shock because they were taking lobfire heat shots from ranges and aspects they would normally associate with ARH rounds.

There's no real way to tell until you see the tactics and support systems put nose to nose as a total synthesis of who-shoots-first-last-only picture. But the reality that I worry about is simply that if you have two idiots playing Quickdraw McGraw games against each other with guided bullets, what you _really need_ is better body armor, not a superior set of sights or hotter gunpowder. And we continue to persist in mounting only the most basic of EXCM (flares) on jets which theoretically should be using WANDA/TADIRCM type laser jammers to defeat even the standing threat of R-27T/ET systems.

There is no doubt that we possess the better (radar weapons system) sniper rifle, IMO. Having years of technology leveraging in the RF field. But with the seeker mechanics shared and a decent high impulse weapon to carry it, the Brits have a pretty good boot knife which verges on being a sword for the sub 10nm fight. And they are working on the Meteor which will let them dominate the long-range fight against all but the best of LO threats.

The F-22 probably won't care either way. But the F-18E/F and F-15/16C are due to become obsolescent in a single move when the Typhoon integrates EuroFIRST, AMSAR and these later missiles sometime around 2010. At which point 'Air Dominance' will come down to a 400km ABL pushing out a 2MW wavefront with travel times in about .0013 seconds. Think of it as the ultimate DIRCM.


Aussie Digger

Further to Kurt, the RAAF have been so impressed by ASRAAM, in particular it's long range (compared to other WVR weapons and "older" BVR weapons)that it borders on being considered a true modern "BVR" weapon. Pretty handy given the lack of AMRAAM's our Hornets can carry on "swing-role" missions...

Kurt, you don't think "evolved" C and D AMRAAM variants will minimise the threat posed by such long ranged missiles as the Meteor???


New Member
And what are the performance of the russian R-73 (AA-11 Archer), if we compare to the previously mentionned missiles?

Because I heard it was the best "dogfight" missile in the early 90's, but now?

Kurt Plummer

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro

Further to Kurt, the RAAF have been so impressed by ASRAAM, in particular it's long range (compared to other WVR weapons and "older" BVR weapons)that it borders on being considered a true modern "BVR" weapon. Pretty handy given the lack of AMRAAM's our Hornets can carry on "swing-role" missions...

The big problem here is that ASRAAM is still a rail-forward missile with fairly big tails. This means that you are going to have a hard time nesting them in the F-35 weapons bay and as soon as you go external, you lose your LO. Of course I will also never understand why it was considered a 'good idear' to go with a 2-station bay with one well so deep that (according to Sweetman) you buy the GBU-31 at the cost of all other weapons.

Going into a fight with all of 2 heat weapons and no preattrition/turnsignalling threat nose control is a _mistake right off the bat_. The combination of advanced optical cueing, shooter-illuminator datalinks and HOBS /ensuring/ that there will be missiles all over the sky at huge initial-or-dead expenditure rates.

Kurt, you don't think "evolved" C and D AMRAAM variants will minimise the threat posed by such long ranged missiles as the Meteor???[/quote]

As I understand it:

AIM-120C6: New warhead with tailored (forward directional entrainment) burst against LPI cruise and high closure rate targets.
AIM-120C7: new IMU/GPS autopilot to improve the longrange trajectory tailoring.
AIM-120D: 2-way digital tether and further improved profile tailoring for extended NEZ shots.

The USAF having backed off saying that the void space of some 7" remaining after the 'repackaging' upgrade of the C4 is now motored up. Without which _even the D_ is not an ERAAM with the 11" motor length increase.

Even if it was, you are lookng at a Mach 4++ category weapon for the first 10-15nm and probably an average of Mach 2-3 thereafter. Because as far as I can tell, it's still a solid, not a gel, and that means it's not throttleable/relightable. Better NEZ but not better NEZ @ extended range.

Comparitively, BVRAAM is supposedly a 'Mach 5' class weapon and will probably have an average Mach of not less than 3.5 all the way out. This means that it will get to pole first. And when it arrives, it will have a lot more endgame energy. Along with all the missile datalink and precision positioning capabilities of the AIM-120s (if not quite the ECCM as our next upgrade is going to be to a MEMS type AESA).

Add to this a potential of up to 150-200km worth of full envelope flight range and you have a Ks-172 monster in an AMRAAM sized midget carriage box.

Such is simply not beatable by conventional or even pulsed rocket motors, IMO.

As I said, between the supercruise boosting and the VLO, the F-22 may not care. But fools that we are, we have abandoned an all-Raptor Blk.20 D1/R1 fleet sizing and will have to settle for a 'sweep force' of probably 60-90 airframes in any given combat theater. Half or more of which will be 2-shot wonders because they have secondary GBU-32/39 delivery requirements.

What really worries me of course is the notion that this technology will 'migrate' from whatever export nation is too weak willed to say no to a little cash to nations like China, Israel or Russia where you are looking at R-77PD, Idra and the PL-12 as already-ARH baselines that could equally use the range improvements. Both to survive Raptors covering a fairly limited raid-track corridor (for conventional signatured F-teens). And more importantly, to hostage support mission platforms like the RQ-4, E-3/8/10 and EA-6B/EA-18G as well as tanking. Which means that even F-35s could be hostagable to their enablers survivable standoff.

Lobshot target ID doesn't really matter when you are on the defensive because, vs. the Western sortie-saturation system in the early days of an air campaign, the numeric weighting is going to make 9 out of 10 coin flips come up 'enemy' regardless.

Which is why I desperately want to see us switch up to throwaway/ULO UCAVs, 200nm turbo-AAM (with 30minute-1hr loiter) and OCA-by-DEW.

It is 'ironic' in someways because we /told/ the Brits that they should _stick with the gameplan_ of ERAAM then RamAAM. We even gave away the rights to Euromissile switchover to the AIM-120C5 as a baseline production variant rather than making them stick with the B upgrade. But they wanted something that could compete with the F-22 on the export market. And now that they have it, they have basically ensured that our own force models will have to change past the point at which hit-or-miss-ile weapons can viably (for cost) be used.

Thus we have returned to a state where the bullets no longer matter as much as the airframe does and indeed, the next standard of Ultimate Air Superiority Fighter _will be_ a 747 (I have ZERO confidence in 'digital' diode/FO laser technology progressing in time to make a JSF/ATL combinaiton possible.).


Regarding the R-73. The Russians peg this out as a 20-40km weapons system. Yet it's still basically a 6.5" motor case with all of the 1970s-80s typical (macroscale) Russian missiletronics limitations on efficient internal volumetrics use.

Since physics remain a constant for everybody, it's also a given that they have a HUGE drag penalty off those 12 lift/control surfaces and 2 AOA whiskers.

Indeed, for the improved R-73M2/K-74 they had to lock down the TVC in extended range shots so that the missile didn't burn it's entire impulse value trying to steer immediately to bearing off the rail. Which means that the weight penalty of the TVC is also a waste for both efficient nozzle plenum design. And burnout endgame smash.

As such, I would say that the R-73 is one of those missiles that gets credit for being HOBS when nobody else was (albeit initially only 45` and with a lousy HMS) but which simply has not kept up with the SOA for either cue or absolute physical performance. Given I've seen artists concepts of the K-30 which look like either MICA or IRIS-T, I would have to say that the Russians agree with me, they just can't afford to build the followon.

But then I look at the AIM-9X and I see canards up front, bulky tail controls out back, TVC petals nested inbetween and a massive 'sculpted' body duct. And I have to wonder what, if anything the 'major aerodynamic cleanup' of Box Office effort really taught us.

Once more making it seem like the Brits are the only ones who 'really got it right'.

Until you look at the Python-4/5 and Derby. Which, if anything, again look like relics of the 1970s, even compared with the P3.

Truth be told, here's my take on optical weapons and SRM in general:

1. You can't beat an SRM in heart of the envelope. You can cook or confuse it's seeker with CLIRCM techniques to steer it way. But you can't beat it. Thus entering a visual range fight without _advanced_ IRCM and MAWS to cue it is beyond dumb.

2. Once you get beyond HOE, the missiles first=last past chances and indeed total envelope (Yay! Supercruise at 50K!) also goes right to hell.

3. There are techniques that can lessen the effects of DIRCM, the folks running the Euromissile booth showed MICA seeker with a degree of laser hardening at the last Paris Air Show. More importantly, the ability of optics to perform as _search mechanisms_ is only getting better and better as the detector counts move up and the pixel:pixel noise resolution averaging gets better (quality control and preprocessing on the FPA).

4. If you want to make a missile worth it's cost, it cannot be a one-shot throw of the dice. If the weapon misses, _it needs to come back around and try try again_. Because a manned fighter has a huge fuel tank worth of Ps Reenergization capability. But it also has a LOT of mass-inertia to compensate for. So that, if you can keep it's energy low, your likelihood of a hit on the second engagement is much, much greater with a low throwweight missile. Effectively, this means a weapon with a constant-function turbine, not a rocket or even a ramjet.

5. Microturbines, like those on AShM and decoy drones are relatively well known technologies and they can either provide you 200+nm at .92 Mach. Or 100nm/11 minutes at Mach 1.4. As proven with the MALD.

6. Missile:Missile datalinks make it possible to use pack-attack and skirmish line optical advance to sweep wide areas. While a parachute + airbag system would allow for an expended missile to potentially be recovered at a given preset waypoint area.

7. Once you put 1-6 together with the realization of what a _Subsonic, FQ-LO only_, JSF means; it becomes obvious that it is better to put 100 million into 100 missiles. Than 2 Su-30s with all the fixings. Since you can launch a missile using a catapult and a 2.5 ton truck from any backroad you please.

Since AMRAAM itself now only costs about 340,000 bucks a pop, a 1 million dollar _hunting_ weapon would have a lot of developmental cost margin. And it would be better for concentrating VALUE into the kill mechanism. Rather than the airbase, pilot skill, pilot bravery, and total-signature vulnerable platform that is what we call a 'fighter'. But which is, in fact, **Only A Bus Vehicle**.