R.550 Magic

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Magic
Magic-and-Super550.jpg
A R550 Magic (left) and Super 530 (right) under the wing of a Mirage 2000
Type Short-range air-to-air missile
Place of origin France
Service history
In service 1975 (Magic) and 1986 (Magic 2)
Used by See Users
Production history
Manufacturer Matra, MBDA
Specifications
Weight 89 kg
Length 2.72 m
Diameter 157 mm
Warhead 13 kg fragmentation
Detonation
mechanism
IR

Engine solid
Operational
range
0.3 to 15 km
Flight altitude up to 11 km
Guidance
system
IR
Launch
platform
Dassault Rafale, Dassault Mirage 2000, F-16, Sea Harrier(FRS51), Super Étendard, Mirage F1, Mirage 5, Mirage III.

The R.550 Magic is a short-range air-to-air missile designed in 1968 by French company Matra to compete with the American AIM-9 Sidewinder.

Development[edit]

On 11 January 1972, a Gloster Meteor of the centre for in-flight trials fired the R550 Magic and shot down a Nord CT20 target drone (unmanned aerial vehicle).

Mass-produced from 1976, the Magic was adopted by the French Air Force and the Navy.

The Argentine Air Force received "Magic 1" for its Mirage IIIEA during the 1982 Falklands War.

The Argentine Navy received "Magic 1" for its Super Etendards. However, they were procured after the 1982 Falklands War.

An upgraded version, the "Magic 2", replaced the original model in 1986. Now obsolete, 11,300 Magic 2 were produced and it was exported; notably to Iraq and Greece, who have used it in actual combat.

The Magic is still carried by the Dassault Rafale, Dassault Mirage 2000, F-16, Sea Harrier(FRS51), Super Étendard, Mirage F1, Mirage 5, and Mirage III. It is gradually being replaced by the MBDA MICA.

Some 480 were sold to Taiwan and used by the Republic of China Air Force.

Description[edit]

The Magic has 8 fixed fins, and 4 movable fins. It has a solid-fuel engine, and can engage the target independently from the firing aircraft with its passive Infra-red guidance system.

The Magic 2 replaced the AD3601 seeking head by the AD3633, allowing frontal fire on the target (the Magic 1 could only be fired from the rear on the target). The Magic 1 has a transparent dome on its nose, while the Magic 2 is opaque.

Operators[edit]

Operational history[edit]

Greece[edit]

On 8 October 1996, 7 months after the escalation over Imia/Kardak a Greek Mirage 2000 fired an R550 Magic II and shot down a Turkish F-16D[1] over the Aegean Sea. The Turkish pilot died, while the co-pilot ejected and was rescued by Greek forces.[2][3] In August 2012, after the downing of a RF-4E on the Syrian Coast, in response to a parliamentary question, Turkish Defence Minister İsmet Yılmaz confirmed that Turkish F-16D Block 40 (s/n 91-0023) of 192 Filo was shot down by a Greek Mirage 2000 with an R.550 Magic II on 8 October 1996 after violating Greek airspace near Chios island.[4]

South Africa[edit]

The South African Air Force (SAAF) received a number of R.550 missiles before a widespread international arms embargo took effect in 1977. SAAF Mirage III and Mirage F1 aircraft carried the R.550. South African Mirage F1 aircraft fired early generation R550 missiles in combat over Angola against MiG-21 and MiG-23 adversaries on a number of occasions. In all but one case, the missiles failed to damage or destroy the MiGs. In an engagement between a Mirage F-1CZ and MiG-21 in October 1982, two R.550s were fired by SAAF Major Rankin and one of them damaged the FAPLA MiG-21.[5] The limited performance envelope of early generation R.550s lead South Africa to begin developing an indigenous AAM called the V-3 Kukri.

See also[edit]

References[edit]