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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Kh-101 / Kh-102

Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced in January 1992 that he would end the manufacture of all sea- and air- launched cruise missiles.

As of 1996 it was reported that at least two next-generation strategic cruise missiles were under development, with conventional (Kh-101) or nuclear (Kh-102) warheads. The Kh-101/102 was in development for most of the 1990s, and were expected to enter service in 2002-3. Reported to incorporate stealth features. By late 2000 very few details had emerged concerning either program, neither of which appeared to have received Western designations. Based on the reported association between the Kh-55 and the Kh-65, it is probably the case that the Kh-101 is a derivative of the previous Kh-55.

It was reported that Russian Air Force plans called for upgrading the Tu-95MS `Bear-H' bomber to carry up to eight Kh-101 or 14 Kh-65 cruise missiles. There was also a plan for the Tu-160 to carry 12 Kh-101s. A re-arming plan for the Tu-160 under which tthe modernised Tu-160 was to carry 12 Kh-101s or Kh-SDs was halted in 1998. At that time the Russian Air Force had only six bombers of this type and talks on buying a further 19 from Ukraine fell through. In April 1998 it was decided that Ukraine's Tu-160s would be scrapped. There was therefore no sense in launching an upgrade programme and the complete withdrawal of the Tu-160 from service was being considered.

The long-range Kh 101 cruise missile apparently still under development by the Raduga Design Bureau and long-range aviation. It was apparently first launched in October of 1998 by a Tu-160 during 37th Air Army exercises. It will reportedly be employed with either a conventional (Kh-101) or a nuclear (Kh-102) warhead. The conventional warhead version required the use of a highly accurate guidance system, which reportedly provides a circular error probability of 12-20 meters. An electro-optic flight path correction system uses a terrain map stored in its onboard computer, as well as a TV-seeker for the terminal stage of flight. The Kh-101's launch weight is 2,200-2,400kg and its maximum speed is Mach 0.77. The range of this system probably exceeds 3,000km, and some reports claim a range of as great as 5000 km.

The Kh-101 is described as having an "aerial torpedo" configuration, but with swept wings and use of radar absorbing materials, conformal antennas, and other stealth technologies. The design features an INS guidance and satellite navigation receiver for midcourse guidance, with terminal attack using an image matching system. This high precision allows a conventional warhead, though the Kh-102 version has a nuclear warhead.

Some reports suggest that the Kh-101 share the engine configuration of the Kh-55, with a turbofan under the tail, while other accounts claim the a turboprop engine drives a pusher contraprop system on the tail, with propeller blades made of low-RF-signature materials. This confusion suggests that possibly alternative propulsion schemes were evaluated.

In March 2000 it was reported that the Russian Air Force had tested a new cruise missile with a conventional warhead. It was said to be a Kh-555 missile, which was developed from the Kh-55, with a range of 2000 - 3000 km. The relationship between the Kh-555 and the Kh-101, with evidently similar characteristics, is unclear. As of early 2005 it appeared that the development of the Kh-101 had been suspended in favor of the Kh-555 program.

Russia's new, never before publicly exhibited cruise missile was spotted on the footage which showed strategic bombers flying their first ever attack missions in Syria 17 November 2015, reports in Russian media suggest. The missile was believed to be the unique long-range Raduga Kh-101. The stealthy airborne Kh-101, in development until recently, was said to be already in service with the Russian Air Force. the Kh-101 could have been launched from Russian territory and hit targets in Syria but land-based launching systems for the new missile have not been developed yet.

The Kh-101, outfitted with a conventional payload, has a maximum range of 5500 kilometers (over 3400 miles) and is capable of travelling at a maximum speed of 270 m/s. Its accuracy is reported to be around five to six meters. The cruise missile is likely equipped on the Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) and the Tupolev Tu-95MS (Bear) strategic bombers.

The Kh-101 is a likely replacement for the Kh-55, developed to provide a conventional stand-off land-attack capability. The Kh-555 is based on the air force's nuclear Kh-55SM cruise missile, with the nuclear package replaced and an improved guidance system.

A variation, known as the Kh-102, carries a nuclear warhead.

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