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Kh-55 Granat / AS-15 Kent

Three aircraft versions of this missile are known as: Kh-55 (Article 120, alias RKV-500, NATO's AS-15a), Kh-55-OK (article 124), Kh-55SM (Article 125, alias RKV-500B, NATO's AS-15B). Production of a stretched-range version, the "Kh-55SM", began in 1986. The improved Kh-55MS, AS-15B Kent reported NATO-codename, version was fielded in the 1990s. The X-55SM modification provided for increased range with the installation of expendable conformal external fuel tanks, giving it an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles).

The Kh-55 has been in Russian service since 1984 as a nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile. The missile carries a 200 kt nuclear warhead. The Kh-55 is the Soviet counterpart to American AGM-86 ALCM cruise missile. The Kh-55 cruise missiles are deployed with strategic bombers Tu-95 MS and Tu-160.

Each Tu-95MS bomber can carry up to six X-55 missiles, located on catapult type launching drum installation in the bomb compartment of the aircraft. In addition to the internal rotary launcher, the Bear can carry more Kh-55s externally, though in an overload flight condition. Two are carried on a stores attachment between the fuselage and inboard engine, and three are carried on a stores attachment between the two engines on each wing, for a total of ten missiles. In two loading compartments of supersonic Tu-160 can be located 12 long range cruise missiles (with the additional tanks) or 24 conventional cruise missiles.

The only cruise missile carriers are aircraft of strategic aviation - Tu-95MS and Tu-160. The arrangement of missilesr of this type on the Euro-strategic bombers Tu-22M2 and Tu-22M3, according to the design project leader of BAR - I.S.Selezneva, was not provided for, although similar prospects repeatedly were discussed on the pages of the western press.

After the collapse of the USSR some of the missiles and their carrier aircraft remained beyond the limits of Russia, in particular, in Ukraine and in Kazakhstan. At the end of 1999 there were 575 cruise missiles of air basing X-55 and X-55SM delivered from Ukraine to Russia by rail transport on account of liquidation of debt for the deliveries of gas.



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