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Weapon - Air-to-Air - V3B Kukri

Weapon Stats:

Speed: Mach 2+
Range: 0.3-4 km, 0.2-2.5 miles
Length: 2.95 m, 9.68 ft
Diameter: 12.7 cm, 5 ft
Weight: 74.25 kg, 164 lb
Explosives: 12kg (26.5 lb) Torpex 2A fragmentation
Propulsion: Solid-propellant rocket

V3B Kukri

Status: Out of service
Category: Air-to-Air

The Kentron V3B is a short-range infra-red dogfight air-to-air missile cleared for use with the Mirage III and Mirage F1. Its major feature is the helmet-mounted acquisition system which allowed the pilot to lock the missile's seeker head onto a target well outside his aircraft's axis. Mode switching, target designation and firing controls are all grouped on the throttle and stick on the HOTAS principle. It can manoeuvre as a sustained 25g and peak at 35g, and its launch limitations are 7g, 50 000ft and Mach 1.8; launch velocity is the aircraft's speed plus 500m/s. Gimble limit was 34 degrees.

Work began on the missile in 1975 after it was found that the V3A's firing envelope was very limited due to the seeker gimble angle limits. The V3B offered a more sensitive IR-head with a bigger 'look angle' (but still restricted to tail-chase attacks), an upgraded motor and an increased helmet-sight designation angle. It is camparable to the AIM-9J Sidewinder. Production commenced in 1979 and the export version (Kukri) became available in 1981. Production ceased in 1985 after 450 missiles were built.

The IR seeker head would be sensitive to decoy flares and hot spots on the ground (like any single colour missile of its generation). Once locked on the tailpipe hot spots on the ground was not a problem. Therefore there was a low-level limitation. Another major problem with the missile was that it had no bias ahead of the target exhaust plume.

Although it was fired in anger during the Bush War, it scored no kills as the 2 or 3 V3B's that were fired were fired from outside the action envelope and ran out of kinetic energy before it reached the target and could therefore not perform the high G demands of the terminal phase manouvering that was required.


V3B on Impala Mk II. V3B top, V3A middle and  AIM-9B bottom.