AA-6 Acrid
TypeLong-range 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)
Wingspan1.45 m (4 ft 9 in)
Warheadblast fragmentation
Warhead weight38–100 kg (84–220 lb)
Radar and active laser fuzes

Enginesolid-propellant rocket motor
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 ever to 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 has built in semi-active radar homing (R-40R), with an inverse monopulse seeker which give the missile ability to engage targets in all-aspects and infrared homing (R-40T) versions.[4]

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

Following the defection of Soviet Air Defense 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 outside of training or testing. Standard PVO procedure was to fire a two-missile salvo at a target: one heat-seeking R-40T missile followed by a SARH R-40R, 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.

During the Persian gulf war of 1991 on the first night, a McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet of US Navy piloted by Scott Speicher of VFA-81 was shot down by an R-40 missile fired by an IQAF MiG-25 piloted by Zuhair Dawood.[4]

On 30 January 1991, an IRAF MiG-25 used an R-40 missile to damage a USAF F-15C during the Sammura air battle.


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

Current operators


Former operators

Retired. 660 missiles originally delivered.
 Islamic State
Captured examples used as makeshift surface-to-air missiles.[5]
 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. ^ a b "AA-6 ACRID R-40". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  5. ^ Mitzer, Stijn; Oliemans, Joost (27 March 2016). "R-40 AAMs used as makeshift SAMs by Islamic State in a desperate attempt to combat coalition airpower". Oryx Blog.
  6. ^ Cooper, Tom; Grandolini, Albert; Delalande, Arnaud (2015). Libyan Air Wars, Part 1: 1973-1985. Helion & Company Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-909982-39-0.