Tyler Rogoway mentioned something about Russian air defense networks being multi-layered systems. A key part of an enhanced defense network would be the ability to destroy the enemy’s own network of sensors, jammers, or defense suppression ability. Doing that would require a missile large enough to accommodate a sizable seeker and of comparatively immense range, akin to a very fast cruise missile aimed ait an aircraft in both size and function and therefore stretching practicality. Which is more or less exactly what the Russians have been trying to do.
Topshot from missiles.ru (as indicated by the watermark)
The most promising “AWACS Killer” is the Novator K-100/KS-172. Novator is one of the leading Russian firms of both surface-launched and air-launched anti-aircraft missiles and manufacture the S-300 and S-400 systems mentioned in Rogoway’s article. It is an adaptation of the 9M38 missile used on the “Buk” surface-to-air system - yes, the exact same missile that shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. As the missile already posseses the immense range required, the initial developmental version (pictured above) is a fairly straightforward adaptation, simply having the mounting hardware to ensure it could be slung under the wing of a Flanker fighter and that its seeker can interface with the plane’s radar. Later pre-production versions (featured in the topshot) feature additional refinements, namely a slightly bigger fuselage of consistent diameter (likely for even greater fuel storage), improved mounting hardware and a larger boost rocket. It’s currently the largest air-to-air missile ever slung from an aircraft.
Comparison of original “Buk”-based KS-172 prototype and refined preproduction prototype. Both images by artist “Allocer” via Wikipedia
In Ace Combat: Infinity, the default secondary weapon of the Su-35 Flanker-E is the preproduction prototype version of the Novator K-100, though it somewhat lacks the range and especially destructive power of the real thing. Like the real thing, however, it is best effectively used in salvo-fire. Image form this YouTube video.
image from militaryedge.org
Another AWACS Killer development is a variant of the Kh-31 anti-ship cruise missile, given the NATO codename AS-17 “Krypton.” The Kh-31 is very fast - Mach 3+ - and can be carried by tactical fighters like the Flanker. In addition to having a more traditional radar seeker that can detect ships, it also has an anti-radition seeker that can home in on the radar output of ships deemed the greatest anti-air threat (like the US Navy’s AEGIS air warfare vessels). The Russians then got the brilliant idea of taking this seeker-equipped missile, swapping out the anti-ship warhead for presumably an air-burst fragmentation warhead more appropriate for downing aircraft, and aiming it at the enemy’s AWACS and jamming assets.
Image by Vitaly M. Kuzminvia Wikipedia
Vympel, like Novator, is another manufacturer of a very large assortment of anti-air missiles in the Russian Air Force’s inventory. The R-37M (NATO codename AA-13 “Arrow”) is a 21st century update of the R-33/AA-9 “Amos,” more or less the Soviet answer to the AIM-54 Phoenix slung by F-14s. Like the Phoenix, it is a very long-range missile designed to shoot down bombers from well beyond the protection of escort assets, and alledgedly a seeker has been developed that allows it to home in on AWACS and jamming assets. Just like how the Phoneix needed the complex networking of the F-14’s AWG-9 radar, the R-33/37M is more or less a specialist missile for the MiG-31 “Foxhoud.”