AA-6 Acrid
TypeHeavy Air-to-air missile
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1970–present
Used bySoviet Union, Syria, Iraq
WarsIran–Iraq War, Gulf War, Operation Southern Watch
Production history
DesignerOKB-4 MR Bisnovatyi
VariantsR-40R / R-40T, R-40RD / R-40TD, R-40RD1 / R-40TD1 (radar and IR models)
Specifications (R-40RD)
Mass475 kg (1,047 lb)
Length6.29 m (20 ft 8 in)(radar guided) - 5.91 m (19 ft 5 in) (IR guided)[1]
Diameter0.31 m (12 in)
Warheadblast fragmentation
Warhead weight38–100 kg (84–220 lb)
Radar and active laser fuzes

Enginesolid-propellant rocket motor
Wingspan1.45 m (4 ft 9 in)
50–80 km (31–50 mi)[2]
Maximum speed Mach 2.2-4.5[3]
Inverse monopulse Semi-active radar homing (R-40RD)
Infrared homing (R-40TD)
MiG-25, MiG-31

The Bisnovat (later Molniya then Vympel) R-40 (NATO reporting name AA-6 'Acrid') is a long-range air-to-air missile developed in the 1960s by the Soviet Union specifically for the MiG-25P interceptor, but can also be carried by the later MiG-31. It is the largest air-to-air missile in the world to ever go into production.


The development of the Mach 3+ North American XB-70 Valkyrie threatened to make the entire interceptor and missile force of the Voyska PVO obsolete at one stroke, thanks to its incredible speed and altitude performance. In order to counter this new threat, the MiG-25 was designed, but new air-to-air missiles were also required to enable the MiG-25 to engage its intended targets at the high speeds and altitudes dictated by the requirements. The Bisnovat design bureau began development of the long-range air-to-air missile in 1962. The resulting R-40 was initially matched with the Smerch-A ("Tornado-A") radar of the MiG-25. It was built in semi-active radar homing (R-40R), with inverse monopulse seeker which give the missile ability to engage targets in All-aspects and Infrared homing (R-40T) versions.[4]

In order to guarantee a kill at such high speeds and in the thin air, a large warhead was needed in order to have a sufficient blast effect. Large control fins were required to give the missile enough maneuvrability at high altitude. All this necessitated a very large missile and as a result, the R-40 is the largest air-to-air missile to ever enter production. It is slightly larger than the MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missile.

Following the defection of Soviet Air Defence Forces pilot Viktor Belenko in 1976 and the compromising of the MiG-25P's systems and the associated R-40s, Vympel developed an improved version of the missile with a better infrared countermeasures (IRCM) resistance and more sensitive seekers. The upgraded missiles were designated with the suffix -D (for 'dorabotannye', "finalized"). Later -D1 versions were also developed.

Production of the R-40 ended in 1991, but it remains in limited service arming surviving MiG-25 and some MiG-31 interceptors.

Combat history

In Soviet service, the R-40 was never fired in anger. Standard PVO procedure was to fire a 2-missile salvo at a target; 1 heat-seeking R-40T missile followed by a SARH R-40R, in order to avoid the possibility of the heat-seeking missile locking-on to the radar-guided missile.

As the MiG-25 has been exported to various states in the Middle East, the R-40 has been used in combat by Iraq and probably by Syria and Libya too.

On 30 January 1991 a IRAF MiG-25 damaged a USAF F-15C by a R-40 missile in Sammura air battle. However Iraq claimed and later confirmed that the F-15 was shot down and fell in Saudi Arabia after a bedouin smuggler found wreckage but USAF debunks these claims.


Map with R-40 former operators in red and current operators in blue
Map with R-40 former operators in red and current operators in blue

Current operators


Former operators

Retired. 660 missiles originally delivered.
 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya[clarification needed]
 Soviet Union
Passed on to successor states.


  1. ^ "Missile analysis: AA-6 Acrid" (PDF). FlightGlobal. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Р-40 (ТД/ТР)". Archived from the original on 19 August 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Р-40 (AA-6 ACRID) - MilitaryRussia.Ru — отечественная военная техника (после 1945г.)". militaryrussia.ru.
  4. ^ "AA-6 ACRID R-40". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 4 February 2019.