R-4 (missile)

AA-5 Ash

R-4T (inner pair) and R-4R (outer pair) missiles under wings of Tupolev Tu-128 prototype
Type Heavy air-to-air missile
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1963-1990
Used by Soviet Air Forces
Production history
Manufacturer Bisnovat
Specifications (R-4R)
Weight 492.5 kg (1,086 lb)
Length 5.44 m (17 ft 10 in)
Diameter 310 mm (12 in)
Warhead High explosive
Warhead weight 53 kg (117 lb)

Engine Solid-fuel rocket
2 to 25 kilometres (1.2 to 15.5 mi)
Speed Mach 1.6
Semi-active radar homing (R-4R)
Infrared homing (R-4T)
Tu-28, MiG-25P

The Bisnovat (later Molniya) R-4 (NATO reporting name AA-5 'Ash') was an early Soviet long-range air-to-air missile. It was used primarily as the sole weapon of the Tupolev Tu-128 interceptor, matching its RP-S Smerch ('Tornado') radar.


Development of the R-4 began in 1959, initially designated as K-80 or R-80, entering operational service around 1963, together with Tu-128. Like many Soviet weapons, it was made in both semi-active radar homing (R-4R) and infrared-homing (R-4T) versions. Standard Soviet doctrine was to fire the weapons in SARH/IR pairs to increase the odds of a hit. Target altitude was from 8 to 21 km. Importantly for the slow-climbing Tu-128, the missile could be fired even from 8 km below the target.

In 1973 the weapon was modernized to R-4MR (SARH) / MT (IR) standard, with lower minimal target altitude (0.5–1 km), improved seeker performance, and compatibility with the upgraded RP-SM Smerch-M radar.

The R-4 survived in limited service until 1990, retiring along with the last Tu-128 aircraft.


 Soviet Union

Specifications (R-4T / R-4R)


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