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Zvezda Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton)

New air defense weapon systems of the American Patriot kind have raised the requirements which antiradar missiles must meet. These include first of all higher speed and longer range, then also high interference immunity and radar turn-off when attacked.

For the special purpose of meeting these requirements, the "Zvezda" group under the direction of V. Bugayskiy began in 1977 working on the Kh-31 missile (Article) 77P). The first launchings of this missile took place in 1982.

The most interesting component of the Kh-31P is its dual propulsion system designed by the "Soyuz" Design Bureau in Turayevo near Moscow (note: there are several "Soyuz" engineering groups in Russia). First the missile is accelerated by its solid-fuel rocket engine to a speed of Mach 1.8, then the engine is discarded and the interior of the missile is converted into the combustion chamber of the missile's jet engine. The latter accelerates the missile to a speed of almost Mach 4.5, while four air intake holes on the sides of the missile body open up. On the basis of the Kh-31P antiradar missile were developed the Kh-31A missile (Article 77A) with an active-radar guidance head and also an M-31 flying target for air defense training exercises. The Kh-31 was for the first time publicly displayed in November 1991, in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

The State Scientific Production Center Zvezda-Strela has upgraded the air-to-surface supersonic ASM Kh-31A NATO: AS-17 Krypton). Recently a variant of the air-to-air class based on the Kh-31 was made available, equipped with a hybrid active-passive guidance head for use against nonmaneuvering airborne targets such as AWACS (passive guidance) from far distances. The range of this missile is 200 km. The unofficial designation of this missile is 'mini-Moskit'. The Kh-31A missile has been developed from the technologies of the 1970-80s.

The improved version of the KH-31PM, a missile that is already very well known in the US Navy, was deployed in 2015. The KH-31 was a missile that the American fleet bought from Russia in the 1990s as a target missile for developing ships' anti-aircraft systems.

The Americans used the KH-31PM to learn how to hit the Chinese 3M-54 Moskit anti-ship missiles, which had been produced by Russia. In the West the Moskit is codenamed Sunburn, due to its speed of over 1,700 mph and its destructive potential.

The KH-31, which is very similar to the Moskit, is smaller and cheaper and is used for destroying above-water targets, radar stations and anti-aircraft missile complexes such as the Patriot. It can be installed in all types of Russian destroyers and bombers.

The new KH-31PM has an increased range of 160 miles. It also has a new guidance system and engine, which make its flight more unpredictable and deadlier for the adversary. For example, the missile is equipped with the broadband guidance head, which can be used against practically all anti-aircraft systems. The earlier missiles were equipped with selective heads, which could only be used against one type of system.



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