Russian Forces are using a novel method to identify the location of Ukrainian air defense systems by firing an R-37M (RVV-BD) air-to-air missile that manoeuvers at lower altitude in the hope that Ukrainian air defense missiles and rockets fire at it thus giving away their positions.
On October 11, several R-37M (RVV-BD) air-to-air missiles having a range of more than 300 km were seen in the sky which were not aimed at a particular target but were manoeuvering their trajectory.
Russian publication, Topcor.ru quoted a social media post by the mayor of the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, Vitaliy Maletskyi, as saying, "the missiles fired at Ukraine specifically change the direction of flight, luring the Ukrainian air defense forces."
However, the Ukrainian military has not confirmed the missile to be R-37M. This brings us to the question as to why the Russians would use an expensive and highly capable missile as a decoy. Could it be some other missile that mimics the R-37M?
Air defense alarms, sometimes stretching for hours is common in Ukraine and is said to be associated with the tracking of Russian missiles. Eyewitnesses observed that the Russian missiles, which often change the direction of flight or even fly in a 'circle,' the publication said.
From the tracking lock-on, the Russians are trying to establish the location of the air defense systems and hit at them with guided artillery or missiles.
The missile is carried on the underwing of the MiG-31 high altitude aircraft and launched from a stand-off distance. It can also be launched from Su-35 and Su-57.
According to published information, the R-37M tracks its targets with both semi-active and active radar homing. Once the R-37M comes within suitable range of the target, it activates its own radar and homes in on the target.