Vympel R-73 'ARCHER' - History, Design, Performance & Discussion

Known to NATO as the AA-11 “Archer”, the R-73 is a short range IR guided air to air missile used by the Soviet Union. Replacing the R-60 (NATO: AA-8 “Aphid”), The R-73 entered service in 1984.

What makes it stand out isn’t the range or speed. This missile has thrust vectoring control (TVC), and a wide gimbal range. This allows it to hit targets “off boresight”. That is to say that coupled with the helmet mounted sight (HMS), the pilot can simply look at a target +/- 45 degrees from the nose to achieve a lock, fire, and hit targets.

Stat card, as well as other current top of the line IR missiles;
R-73, Python 3, AIM-9L

Heavier than an AIM-9, but lighter than the Python 3. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros

  • IRCCM (Higher resistance to flares)
  • TVC (Tighter turn radius, off bore launches)
  • 40G (This missile has high maneuverability, even without TVC)
  • HMS (Most aircraft that equip the R-73 have a helmet mounted sight)

Cons

  • Low range (Missiles like R-27T, Python 3 significantly outrange it)
  • Not invincible (IRCCM does not mean it is immune to countermeasures)
  • Lower missile count (ex. MiG-23MLD would sacrifice 4x R-60M for just 2x R-73)
  • High smoke rocket motor and long burn time (enemies know it’s coming)

The last and final point, the R-73 was the first of its’ kind. Most missiles prior to it do not perform on the same level as far as a dogfight missile goes. Most missiles after it exceed it drastically. A great example is the AIM-9M, it cannot hit high-angle off-bore shots the same way the R-73 can. The AIM-9X however, drastically outclasses it in both seeker technology, range, and acquisition. It will be uniquely balanced in war thunder against more powerful radar missiles and opponents with increasingly effective countermeasures.

Sources:
(Looking for primary sources if possible, please share if you have something available for public distribution)

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u shouldve mentioned using miles instead of KM lol

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It seems to me Gaijin has not fixed the Archers’ guidance issues. It has an issue at very low speeds as well as in straight-line scenarios right now where it will suddenly suffer from some sort of resonance.

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I’ve got this source from British trials of defeating the AA-11 with a three shot burst of flares;
image

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Says essentially to spam 3-shot flare bursts at 0.25s intervals while turning towards direction missile came from. This is quite the undertaking to avoid a missile. Interesting it discusses AA-7D and AA-11 together, I suspect they were thinking they’d see the R-73 first equipping the MiG-23MLD alongside the R-24T.

Countering missiles with IRCCM is easy enough if you understand the concepts and how to do it (in war thunder).

This is the TY-90, which based on the datamine information should have higher resistance to countermeasures than the R-73. Reaction time is key, flaring the missile as early as possible or pre-flaring prior to it being launched will be crucial.

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It says miles in the image, and all images have the same measurement system.

nah just saying using the miles instead of km is uncommon

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You are right for most part about pre flaring , but some of those missiles did not hit you cause you were too close which confuses the missile (a bug on TY-90)

I can test tonight but I’m 100% confident that this is not the case. The missile was not out-maneuvered or over/under-lead from target. It simply tracked until flared off.


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At work, so haven’t really looked into it too much, will do so later. However just saying, I saw a video on YT of someone testing the R73 and they missed shots when the jet they fired on dropped out of AB and dropped flares. So, in all honesty… I’m missing where the R-73 is a stupid OP game breaking missile everyone makes it out to be?

It never was, and it won’t be.

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I briefly played the dev server when it was on the MiG-29 and didn’t find it too crazy, I figured maybe I just missed something. I have the F-14B, the F-16ADF and the MiG-29. Play all three. I’d have no problems them bringing it to the MiG-29 or any other plane that had it.

I just remember so many people complaining about how OP and stupid broken it was and even now I’m like… “What did I miss? Cut back AB and flare, boom, done.”

I think it was devserver 2 where they were cracked:

There is a report on the R-73, currently it appears the IRCCM is not functioning as well as it should. This may be buffed. There are also open reports on maximum overload which should increase it from 40 to 60G.

I need to do further testing, but it appears the seeker lock-on range is insufficient and the missile itself has underperforming range.

I’m of the opinion that most of the shots in this video were heavily cherry picked from the second dev server, and the missile has seen multiple changes since.

2.22.0.14 to 2.22.0.17
2.22.0.17 to 2.23.0.9
2.23.0.9 to 2.23.0.42
2.23.0.42 to 2.23.1.31
2.26.0.19 to 2.27.1.76 (part 1) (part 2)

Also, iirc I remember hearing recently that he said something about having insane seeker range which was quite off since that was changed while dev server was still live iirc. Not sure which of these is first, second dev or whatever.

Yeah I know it’s changed a bunch since, point is that at one point it was a very powerful missile, and people had reason to question it’s inclusion with the best SARH missile. Currently it seems like garbage in game and definitely needs more work (that PID for example really sucks)

The PID is fine, the thrust vectoring implementation is difficult. I agree, at one point it was way over the top but it was fixed relatively quickly and people knew what to expect… Yet still opposed it.