At the last Moscow MAKS 2021 Airshow, a prominent weapon but little attention was paid to the press, due to the grandiose launch of the Su-75 Checkmate aircraft; it’s a K-77M/ Product 180 long-range air-to-air missile.
The K-77M/ Product 180 missile appeared in a short video during MAKS 2021; however, it is not possible to know the internal structure of the rocket. This air show, can be considered the first appearance of the K-77M/ Product 180.
The K-77M/ Product 180 is not essentially a completely new development missile, but an improved version of the R-77 medium-range air-to-air missile. The starting point of the K-77M / Product 180 is a standard medium-range air-to-air missile, built to fit the internal weapons bay of the Su-57 fighter. The major changes of the K-77M / Product 180 missile compared to the most directly visible R-77 rocket, were the replacement of the grille-shaped tail, with a larger, conventional tail of the missile. R-77.
Technically, in addition to changes to the tail, known improvements to the missile include the use of a dual-pulse solid rocket engine; a new radar detector and new calibration data link, which can calibrate the missile’s guidance system faster and more accurately than the inertial guidance system.
A special feature of the K-77M/ Product 180 missile is the missile’s two-way data link system with the aircraft after launch; more powerful power source mounted on the rocket, can operate continuously for 150 seconds.As for the schedule, as a support project for the Su-57, the production of its experimental missile should have started very soon. Currently, two timelines are relatively certain that is the contract to purchase K-77M / Product 180 missiles was signed in 2019, synchronized with the purchase of Su-57.
In the summary of the development unit of the K-77M / Product 180 missile, it is said that the K-77M / Product 180 will complete the factory acceptance test in 2020. The state test and evaluation phase is completed. in 2021. Now that the test has been completed, it will no doubt be used on Su-57 or Su-75 fighters.At MAKS 2021, K-77M / Product 180 was displayed to “be a background” for the debut of the Su-75 Checkmate aircraft to add a “monumental” part. This is not an official demonstration of the K-77M, so there have not been any specifics.
However, the shape of the K-77M confirms previous information and reflects the concept of the missile’s design. We know that the previous R-77 rocket used a single mesh tail, for similar missiles. This tail wing has excellent controllability and can exert the ability of medium-range missiles to a certain extent.However, the net-shaped tail wing causes great drag and large radar reflection for the missile, but in return the maneuverability of the R-77 is very good. But in the present and future, the drag due to the mesh tail, has severely limited the increase of the missile’s range and especially the R-77’s radar reflectivity is too large.
Therefore, whether stemming from the requirements of the weapons compartment inside the fuselage, or due to the improvement of the range, the K-77M/ Product 180 returned to the traditional layout. However, even with the return to the conventional aerodynamic scheme, the Russian designers still hope, the K-77M / Product 180 will still have good maneuverability.
Prior to the final version of the K-77M/Product 180 that we see now, Russia also had a patented, mid-range air-to-air missile layout. Its tail span did not exceed the main wing and there was a small fixed piece in front of the tail, to delay the large wing surface, improving maneuverability as much as possible.
Although this layout did not eventually appear on the K-77M/ Product 180 version, the K-77M/ Product 180 still reflects the Russian emphasis on enhancing the missile’s maneuverability.
This is why we find the rear wing of the K-77M/Product 180 rocket particularly large, its wingspan exceeding the main wing, which shows that the idea of the designers was to enhance it further. controllability of the missile, giving the missile better maneuverability.
In general, the current layout of the K-77M/Product 180 rocket is not as powerful as the previous reticle, but with dual pulse motors that enhance the maneuverability of the final stage and still be able to close or reach be similarly effective.
According to the manufacturer’s introduction, the K-77M/ Product 180 air-to-air missile can even intercept anti-aircraft missiles in all directions.
In recent years, the R-77 has greatly damaged the reputation of Russian-made air-to-air weapons because of its range. Now the K-77M/Product 180 missile with twice the range of the R-77 (supposedly up to 190 km) has appeared. This is a weapon that adds wings to modern Russian fighters, such as the Su-57 and the upcoming Su-75 Checkmate.