The first tactical light weight missile designed exclusively for fighter-to-fighter close-in combat was the R-60 (AA-8 Aphid). This missile was needed to augment the cannon in close-in situations and was also required to work from a minimum range of around 1000 feet out to the limits of cannon range (9000 feet). The concept of a dogfight missile was not yet as clear with the Russian pilots as it was in the West.
The R-60 is around half the weight of western heat-seeking missiles. As a result, the warhead weighs a mere 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs.), limiting its lethality. The original model, R-60T (AA-8 Aphid-A), was developed during the late 1960s and had entered production in 1973. The R-60T had a maximum range of 7.2 km, modest by the standards of current infra-red guided missiles, but impressive for such a small missile.
It is reported that the R-60 was a tail-chase weapon, and that all-aspect performance was achieved by later models. Two new versions exist; the improved R-60M and a new R-60MK developed for the MiG-29. The MK variant has a head-on range of 12 km and a tail-on of 8 km, with a maximum speed of Mach 2.5 and uses proportional navigation for guidance. It became the first missile to be incorporated with the new helmet-mounted sighting system in the MiG-29.
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