Originally posted by fatman17
Robert Hewson Air-Launched Weapons Editor - London
Air forces and industry are looking to their future air-to-air weapon requirements, Robert Hewson reports
Over the last 20 years there has, in general, been a fall in the emphasis on air-to-air weapons and combat among many major air forces. For Western Allied nations in particular the demands of irregular warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have accelerated a dilution in the training and resources needed to keep air combat skills sharp. There has also been a slowdown in research and development for future missiles as scarce funds have been spent elsewhere.
Looking forward, the world may soon see a significant resurgence in the importance of air-to-air weapon capabilities. As major powers like Russia, China and eventually India bring significant air combat platforms to the market, their introduction into service at home and abroad will push the US and others into an overdue reprioritisation of weapons for air combat.
There is also a new generation of nations seeking to join the 'fighter club'. This includes Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and perhaps Taiwan, who all - with varying levels of intent and ability - would like to put fighter aircraft of their own into production. These developments, coupled with a drive on exports from China and Russia, will put the question of air superiority back into the spotlight and will no longer allow anyone to take it for granted.
Raytheon's dominance of the air-to-air missile (AAM) market in most of the world is indisputable. Through the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) and short-range AIM-9X Sidewinder, Raytheon has an effective monopoly over the AAM fit for US-built combat aircraft. Today, there is no alternative to the AMRAAM as a beyond-visual-range (BVR) missile for the Eurofighter Typhoon, for example. Therefore, not only do the Eurofighter home nations rely on AMRAAMs but export customers like Saudi Arabia will also operate the missile on its Typhoons.
Of more than 18,000 AMRAAMs built, about 7,000 have been exported in Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to 32 countries. The current AMRAAM Lot 24 production contract from August 2010 is worth USD492.440 million. It comprises 132 AIM-120D missiles for the US and 273 AIM-120C-7s for FMS customers. In October 2010, when Saudi Arabia placed its massive USD60 billion arms request in front of the US Congress, it asked for 500 AIM-120C-7s to arm Royal Saudi Air Force F-15s. Additional deals from 2010 included 120 AIM120C-7s for Switzerland's Hornet upgrade, underlining how AMRAAM's success is driven by more than just aircraft sales.
While the AIM-120C-7 is the standard production variant for export, the US Air Force (USAF) and Navy are moving to the next generation of AMRAAM: the AIM-120D. This is described by the US Department of Defense (DoD) as an improved weapon with "a two-way datalink, GPS-enhanced inertial measurement unit, an expanded 'no-escape' envelope, improved high-angle off-boresight capability and a 50 per cent increase in range". The increased range of the AIM-120D is one of its most important features but also something of a mystery because it is fitted with the same solid rocket motor as the AIM-120C-7.
Most AIM-120D details are classified, but its development has been problematic and entry into service has been delayed. The most recent DoD information noted that the AIM-120D was expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) on the F/A18E/F Super Hornet and the F-15C/D Eagle in Fiscal Year 2011 (FY2011). IOC for the F-16 was expected in FY2014 and then for the F-22A Raptor in FY2016.
Raytheon's other missile is the AIM-9X Sidewinder. A thrust-vectoring evolution of the veteran AIM-9 with an imaging infra-red seeker and other enhancements, more than 4,500 have been delivered since 2003. Customers are Australia, Denmark, Finland, Korea, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey and the US. Lot 9 is the current production batch, with Lot 10 under contract and Lot 11 in negotiations. From Lot 11 onwards Raytheon will build only Block II missiles (current deliveries are split between Block I and II). The AIM-9X Block II incorporates a datalink that doubles the missile's range along with an improved fuze. Raytheon has just announced that it is 'five-for-five' in successful tests of the Block II.
The future of US AAM technology is now taking shape through a number of shadowy development projects. While the US DoD and industry have explored ramjet propulsion systems for possible air-to-air use, a fully fledged ramjet-powered AAM has not yet been embraced in US operational concepts. This is due largely to a reliance on stealth technology to keep the US fighter force out of harm's way, rather than the standoff range a ramjet missile brings. With internal weapon carriage needed to maintain the low-observability characteristics of the F-22 and F-35, US planning has to make maximum use of the limited space inside these weapon bays.
The result is the dual-role missile concept - a single weapon to engage air and ground targets as required. The USAF describes it as "a multirole missile for the fifth-generation fighter force structure. It will provide increased flexibility, standoff range and lethality to defeat 2020+ air and surface threats. It is intended for internal carriage on the F-22A and F-35 and external carriage on selected legacy aircraft."
Since 2006 the US Air Force Research Laboratory has had a technology development study dubbed JDRADM (Joint Dual-Role Air Dominance Missile) underway with Boeing. This has included work on warhead, fuzing, seeker, propulsion and control systems. Spending on the JDRADM has been modest to date, at just a few tens of millions of dollars over several years. Risk reduction and concept development efforts are continuing. The JDRADM completed a Materiel Development Decision review in November 2010. In April 2010 an Initial Capabilities Document from the Joint Requirement Oversight Council introduced the Next Generation Missile (NGM) initiative, which is fed by the JDRADM studies. The NGM has now entered a Materiel Solution Analysis phase to evaluate alternative future missile designs and assess the performance, operational effectiveness, operational suitability and estimated procurement costs of such a weapon.
Some of the most recent concepts to emerge from this process were shown at February's Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. There, Raytheon displayed a mock-up of a dual-role missile with a Variable Flow Ducted Rocket (VFDR) ramjet, while Boeing showed a model of a rocket-powered dual-role missile it refers to as the NGM. A third, and as yet unseen, next-generation weapon is under development at ATK, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. In July 2008 this trio announced they were teaming to develop a dual-role missile, although they refused to identify what requirement it answered or who the customer might be. The entire US missile industry will chase the formal NGM requirement as it should be one of the defining weapon programmes of the 21st century.
The headline developmental programme in Europe is MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM). With the UK as its prime customer, the Meteor team comprises France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden co-operating to field a next-generation extended-range BVR weapon for aircraft like the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen. Through its Bayern-Chemie ramjet propulsion system the Meteor promises an unrivalled mix of speed, range and end-game agility that should make it the most effective air-to-air weapon available on the market. However, questions remain about when the missile will be available for use.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) holds responsibility for most Meteor programme management issues and has dropped a crushing wall of silence around the project. The MoD now refuses to answer even basic questions about the missile's development status. The level of silence surrounding the Meteor is such that when France signed its vital production order for the missile last year, MBDA was forbidden from issuing a statement to acknowledge the fact.
In May 2007 the MoD engaged QinetiQ as prime contractor and system integrator for the provision of Tornado F-3 aircraft as an alternative Meteor test platform to the Typhoon and Gripen. Tornado guided firing trials were due to run from mid-2009 to late 2011. Although the MoD has still not acknowledged any Tornado/Meteor firings, has learnt that at least two tests had been conducted by the end of last year. One of these was a successful launch in the summer of 2010. Another test (believed to be the first of the Tornado airborne firings) was halted a few seconds after launch when the missile was command-detonated by the range controller; an error in the parameters of the test set-up forced the missile to be broken up as safety precaution. A total of four Tornado launches were planned, with two to be completed in 2011. A further firing has been added to this year's test plan, compensating for the earlier failure.
Away from the test ranges, the last eight months saw much good news for Meteor. In July 2010 the Spanish government signed a EUR100 million Meteor production contract, adding a new level of Spanish industrial participation to the programme. In a reflection of the Meteor project's past secrecy this contract was not officially announced, but was later confirmed by Swedish officials marking their own production contract in September.
September 2010 saw two significant Meteor moves by Sweden. First came a landmark integration contract for the missile with the Saab Gripen. A few days later Sweden approved its required national investment in Meteor's production phase and signed the production order contract. Confirming that this was the third production order among the six partners, the Meteor Project Manager for Sweden's Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), Michael Östergren, said: "The development has now reached the point where Sweden can sign a production order for operational missiles. Sweden is number three to sign production orders after the UK and Spain."
The fourth Meteor team member joined the production programme in December, with France agreeing a 200-missile order. Only Italy and Germany have yet to commit to the production phase. MBDA notes that the missile's development phase will be concluded in 2011 and the transition to full production begins in 2012.
Of the Meteor partners who are under contract, Sweden is far in advance of the rest. With Gripens serving as the platform for eight Meteor firings since tests began in 2006, the Swedish team has an unrivalled body of experience with the missile. The 2010 integration contract launched a four-year effort running from 2011 to 2014. Full Meteor capability will be introduced on Swedish Air Force Gripen C/D aircraft as part of its next major mission software upgrade, Edition 20. However, with so much test and development work already completed by Saab, there is a functional Meteor capability available for the Gripen today.
Swedish programme officials have told that after their June 2009 test firing a "go to war" Meteor capability for the Gripen was "in place and more or less operational." Saab has already conducted the first of five airborne launches needed to complete the integration programme. Underlining what has been achieved to date, one Swedish programme source told : "All the basic requirements to have Meteor functional on Gripen have been met. The launchers, datalinking, bus traffic, safe separation - all that is proven. I have an aircraft that is operational right now. I could take it and fly a mission today over the Baltic that would change the balance of power in the region in an afternoon."
Meanwhile the Eurofighter Typhoon, which was once planned to be operational with the Meteor in 2005, might fire its first missile later this year. After many delays, negotiations and renegotiations, Eurofighter says that a long-awaited agreement on Typhoon/Meteor integration is imminent.
A Eurofighter spokesman told : "A contract is currently in place which is focused on the aircraft changes required to integrate Meteor with the Typhoon radar. Initial weapon release trials are part of this contract, which are planned to be undertaken in the first half of 2011. The full contract to qualify and certify Meteor integration on Typhoon is not yet in place, but a proposal was submitted to NETMA at the end of 2010. It is expected that contract negotiations with the customer will commence very soon. The plan is to have the Meteor fully integrated before 2015."
The Royal Air Force's scheduled in-service date for the Meteor is July 2015. That deadline is likely to be flexible, as with most dates in the Typhoon programme, and Sweden seems sure to be the first service user of the missile by 2014/15.
For its part, France plans to fully clear the Meteor for use with the RBE2-AESA-equipped Dassault Rafale (the F3O-4T variant) by 2018. This will include approval for the missile on land- and ship-based Rafales. The first launch and separation trials are scheduled for 2012 and about 12 firings are planned in total. As with the Typhoon, Meteor capability is a central plank of the Rafale sales pitch and the speedy release of that capability for export will be a significant factor in future fighter sales.
Elsewhere in Europe, MBDA maintains its Mica production line, which provides the universal air-to-air weapon for the Rafale and a ground- and ship-launched air defence missile. More than 2,100 Micas have been ordered, including more than 1,100 for France. The 1,000th Mica for France was delivered in November 2010 and the last will be handed over in 2012. Among Western AAMs the Mica is unique as it is built in two versions: the infra-red (IR)-guided Mica IR and the active radar-guided Mica EM. This mix gives a Rafale the significant ability to engage threats with active and passive weapons. The thrust-vectoring Mica also provides an unusual combination of BVR and close combat capability in the same missile.
Another MBDA product, the British-built Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM), is out of production, having gained only one export customer (Australia) and with UK deliveries completed. The potential to restart production exists and MBDA has an active maintenance line sustaining in-service ASRAAMs. However, essential customers like Saudi Arabia and potentially India have turned away from the ASRAAM option in favour of the IRIS-T.
Developed by a multinational team headed by Germany's Diehl BGT Defence, the thrust-vectoring IRIS-T has become Europe's short-range IR-guided AAM of choice and has also won important export customers. It is in service with the Eurofighter Typhoon (Austria, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Spain), Lockheed Martin F-16 (Greece, Norway) and Saab Gripen (South Africa, Sweden and Thailand). The IRIS-T is also the lead option for a short-range missile in Eurofighter's bid for India's MMRCA fighter competition. Diehl BGT Defence has delivered more than 1,000 missiles since 2005 and predicts a minimum production run of 4,000 missiles plus further export orders.
Like the rest of its defence sector, Russia's airborne weapons industry suffered a lack of investment and a dearth of state orders for the last 20 years. Only export sales kept production lines active but, from the late 1990s and into the last decade, international orders sustained a reasonable workload. Russia's weapon builders - unified under the Tactical Missile Corporation (TMC) - face a less well-defined future. Export sales are dropping off as major customers like China and, to a degree, India find alternative sources of supply. The more recent customers for Russian combat aircraft like Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam or Venezuela are not big enough to fill the gap left by China and India.
At the same time there is a reawakening in Russia's procurement plans, thanks to the Sukhoi Su-35S and next-generation T-50 (PAK-FA) fighter programmes. The 48 advanced Su-35S jets announced in 2009 were the first new-build aircraft to be ordered for the Russian fighter force since the 1990s. More Su-35Ss are likely to follow, bridging the gap until the T-50 is ready for meaningful operations. The expansion of the Su-35S force and the resulting potential for export sales, plus the promise of the T-50 means that for the first time in many years Russia's weapon industry has serious goals.
The two primary air-to-air weapons from the TMC are improved versions of missiles with their design roots in the 1980s. Revealed in 2009, the RVV-SD (Raketa Vozdukh-Vozdukh-Srednaya Dalnost, medium-range AAM) and RVV-MD (Raketa Vozdukh-Vozdukh-Malaya Dalnost, short-range AAM) are the latest developments of the well-known RVV-AE/R-77 (AA-12 'Adder') and R-73 (AA-11 'Archer') missiles respectively. Products of the Vympel Design Bureau, they are staged improvements of the original designs rather than radical enhancements.
Several aerodynamic refinements have been made to the BVR-capable RVV-SD. Its rear section has a tapered 'boat tail' shape and the active radar seeker dome is longer and more pointed. Although its propulsion system is unchanged, the revised airframe configuration and flight control software increases range to at least 110 km. The RVV-SD has an upgraded inertial platform in its guidance and control section and a modernised seeker with improved algorithms. At its 2009 debut the RVV-SD was described by Vympel as a "proposal", so the production status of the missile remains unconfirmed.
The RVV-MD IR-guided dogfight missile introduced several performance improvements but not to the level predicted for most preceding R-73 upgrade concepts. Three main enhancements consist of: a two-colour IR seeker, an expanded seeker field-of-view of ±60° and an extended in-flight standby time of six hours.
Current or future Russian orders are likely to be built to RVV-SD and RVV-MD standards. Vympel designers have also spoken of further AAM developments based on the original RVV-AE/R-77 and R-73 designs. This includes a BVR missile referred to as Izdeliye 180 with a revised airframe design that replaces the lattice rear fins with conventional tail fins. Vympel says the new fins lessen drag and reduce weight by removing the heavy actuators needed for the old control surfaces. The missile will be fitted with an improved, higher-speed datalink and an inertial guidance system for mid-course navigation. The rocket motor is an improved dual-pulse engine with a maximum burn of 100 seconds and the ability to control the frequency of thrust inputs. A dual-mode (active/passive homing) seeker is likely to be fitted.
A successor to the R-73/RVV-MD may come in the shape of Vympel's Izdeliye 760 (a derivative of the earlier K-74/Izdeliye 740 concept). It will have an improved IR seeker, an inertial control system, datalink receiver for target updates and an advanced rocket motor with a longer burn time. To make the missile suitable for internal carriage, its cross-section will be reduced. To maximise the weapon's coverage, it can be fired in lock-on-after-launch mode, starting under inertial control before achieving in-flight lock-on. It will be able to engage targets up to 160º from the aircraft's heading. The Izdeliye 760 may have already completed flight tests.
The follow-on to the Izdeliye 760 is identified as the K-MD (Izdeliye 300), which is intended to outperform the ASRAAM and AIM-9X. Although it will draw on experience from the R-73/R-74 series, it will essentially be an all-new missile. It will use an IR seeker with a focal-plane array and this will have more than twice the lock-on range of the Izdeliye 760 seeker, a high resistance to countermeasures and a target-recognition capability.
In terms of deployed weapons Russia's most notable recent achievement has been the introduction of the very-long-range R-37 missile as part of the MiG-31BM 'Foxhound' upgrade. One of Russia's 'lost projects' from the 1990s, the R-37 was designed to work specifically with the aircraft's improved NIIP Zaslon-M passive electronically scanning array (PESA) radar. The R-37 has an range of up to 230 km. After many years of delayed development the MiG-31BM/R-37 combination is entering Russian service.
A second long-range AAM programme exists in Russia, albeit under many different names. Developed by Novator, the K-100 missile (also known as the Izdeliye 172, KS-172, RVV-BD and AAM-L) is potentially a 200 km+ weapon associated with the Su-35S (and export Su-35BM) programme. Versions of this missile have sporadically appeared in public since the 1990s and in recent years full-sized mock-ups were shown carried by Su-35 aircraft. In March 2004 Indian press reports claimed that Russia and India were about to begin collaborative development of the 172 missile, referred to as the R-172. By 2006 the Izdeliye 172/K-100 was confirmed as a potential weapon for Sukhoi's revised Su-35 design and was exhibited in China that year. A full-size mock-up of a weapon identified only as 'AAM' (a catch-all designation) was shown for the first time in more than a decade at the 2007 Moscow Air Show. The K-100 was absent in any form from the 2009 Moscow Air Show, indicating perhaps that the programme has returned to classified status.
Israel's undisputed expertise in AAMs is tempered by its lack of access to major customers for them. In several cases Israel has been blocked by the US from integrating its missiles on US-built fighters. This has left Israel with relatively small production runs supporting upgrades to aircraft like the F-5E Tiger. Rafael produces the Python 4/5 agile dogfight missile and the Derby active radar-guided BVR missile. Customers for these are Brazil (Derby), Chile, Ecuador (Python), India (Derby), Singapore, Thailand and Venezuela (Python). Rafael's most recent Derby sale was as part of the upgrade for India's Sea Harrier force. The company admits that its move into land-based air defence systems where the Python and Derby are employed is what saved its ability to maintain production of these weapons. Israel is one of many nations concerned about its level of access to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. With Israeli industry founded on its ability to improve foreign platforms, any restriction on future upgrades or additions to the F-35 will have serious implications. Rafael does have intriguing future weapon concepts, including an air-launched derivative of the Stunner interceptor from the David's Sling missile defence system.
India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing an active-radar BVR missile called the Astra. This programme was initiated during the 1990s and the first ground-launched missile was fired in 2003.
In February 2011 DRDO scientists revealed that the original Astra design had been completely revised to produce the Astra Mk II. The 'new' Astra has a different aerodynamic layout (with the wings of the Astra Mk I deleted) and an improved smokeless rocket motor. was told that Astra Mk II testing has been underway - and unacknowledged - since 2008. There have been about eight ground-based launches since then, according to the DRDO. Preparation for the first airborne firing is underway with the missile being integrated on a Sukhoi Su-30MKI. This launch is expected "in a couple of months" according to a DRDO spokesperson. Another DRDO official also confirmed plans to integrate the missile on India's Tejas Light Combat Aircraft by 2012.
The DRDO is also working on a next-generation ramjet-powered AAM under the programme title Liquid Fuelled Ramjet (LFRJ). Propulsion system development is being handled by the DRDO's Ramjet Propulsion Division in Hyderabad, where work has been underway since 2004/05. Studies of a solid-fuel motor for an AAM configuration are also being conducted.
Once a powerhouse of air weapon development, modern-day South Africa saw its missile industry hit hard by plummeting defence budgets and recent political realities. This had a profound effect on national industrial champion Denel (formerly Kentron), which was forced to scale back or abandon ambitious plans for heavyweight stand-off missiles, ramjet-powered BVR AAMs and many other airborne weapons.
When the decision came to not integrate Denel's existing R-Darter BVRAAM with the South African Air Force's (SAAF's) Saab Gripens, Denel was faced with having almost no presence in the air-to-air market. Without a replacement for the active-radar-guided R-Darter on the horizon, Denel had only one missile that could become an operational product. This was the A-Darter: a next-generation agile dogfight AAM. Conceived in the late 1980s and drawn up in the early 1990s, it had suffered from a lack of meaningful investment for about 10 years until 2005.
That was the year South Africa and Brazil agreed to jointly develop the A-Darter for service with both air forces. This deal between the two governments and industries gave new life to each country's missile businesses: South Africa was boosted by some much appreciated investment, while Brazil stepped up to a new level of domestic capability. In July 2010 a SAAF Gripen made the first airborne firing of an A-Darter. South Africa and Brazil are planning for an in-service date around 2012.
Denel is now working on preliminary designs for a BVR missile, dubbed the T-Darter. The existence of this programme was acknowledged in 2006, but little has been said since then. The missile is almost certain to emerge as a co-operative programme (almost certainly as part of South Africa's relationship with Brazil) and will be offered on the export market. Denel has said that its BVRAAM will be based on the Umkhonto surface-to-air missile, adopting elements of the Umkhonto's modular design.
Brazil's boutique missile industry is headed by Mectron. This company has delivered several weapons tailored to specific national needs and filling gaps where Brazil felt foreign sources have not been available. The AAM that became the MAA-1A Piranha 1 was drawn up in the mid-1970s when a US embargo denied Brazil a replacement for its AIM-9B Sidewinders. Development was slow. The Piranha 1 did not emerge as a functional missile until the mid-1990s and was approved for production only in 2003. It was cleared for use on various Brazilian Air Force (FAB) types including the Northrop F-5E and Embraer AMX. It can also be carried by the Embraer Super Tucano, giving this aircraft an air-to-air capability that is unique in its class.
A successor design, the MAA-1B Piranha 2, emerged in the middle of the last decade. Changes to this variant comprise a more complex set of control surfaces, an improved rocket motor and a new dual-band IR seeker. Entry into service with the FAB was predicted for 2012, but the test and development status of the MAA-1B is unclear.
Brazil's co-operation with South Africa on the A-Darter programme may be having an effect on the Piranha 2's future. Mectron may lack the engineering resources to work on two AAMs in parallel. If forced to choose one programme that will deliver the best return on its investment (in terms of effectiveness and potential export sales) Brazil is likely to go with the A-Darter.
The other players
Ukraine occupies a unique place in the worldwide air weapon scene thanks to the high level of design skills and production capability established there in Soviet days. Ukraine was the de facto home to most of the Soviet Union's air-to-air weapon industry. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia struggled to re-establish that industry on home soil while Ukraine struggled to find customers to keep its industry alive. One result is Ukraine's close but clandestine relationship with China, where there is a supply of critical design know-how and missile technology. This includes items like electro-optical seekers (a Ukrainian speciality) and upgrade and maintenance support for weapons such as the R-27 (AA-10 'Alamo'), which was mass produced in Ukraine. Drawing on work done for Russia's K-30 advanced short-range AAM programme, Kiev's Luch State Design Bureau has its own concept for a 'close air combat guided AAM'. It was interesting to note this missile programme on display by Luch at November 2010's Airshow China event, where company officials said that high-level discussions with potential partners were underway.
Elsewhere, Japan maintains a national air weapon capability about which relatively little is known. Japan keeps most of its military technology shrouded in secrecy and permits no exports, so has little need to publicise its wares. The Mitsubishi Type 04 (AAM-5) IR-guided agile dogfight missile and the Mitsubishi Type 99 (AAM-4) active radar-guided BVR missile are both in service on JASDF F-15CJ/DJ fighters. A modernisation programme to add the Type 99 to Japan's Mitsubishi F-2 aircraft is underway. The Type 04 missile is replacing the previous-generation Type 90 (AAM-3) on all JASDF combat aircraft.
Iran claims to have developed an indigenous AAM it calls Fatter (Worshipper). This appears to be little more than an AIM-9P Sidewinder. It is not clear if Iran has developed the ability to copy the AIM-9 locally or to build specific components that enable time-expired US-supplied missiles to be returned to service. In 2008 the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) reported test launches of a "new" IR-guided missile identified as the Fatter but which was claimed to have a range far in excess of what is possible with the existing design. In November 2009 IRIAF Commander General Hassan Shahsafi announced that domestic mass production of this "heat-seeking air-to-air missile" was about to be launched. This missile has reportedly been test fired to a range greater than 40 km. The only known infra-red guided AAM programme in Iran is the Fatter and the status of it, or any other similar weapon, remains opaque.
During recent years there have been several reports of an AAM project in Pakistan dubbed 'H-4'. Pakistani media sources have described this weapon as a "BVR missile" and given sketchy details of various H-4 tests. analysis suggests that the H-4 is not an AAM but a version of the Raptor standoff land attack weapon acquired by Pakistan from South Africa.