The Kh-555 is Russia's new conventionally-armed air-launched cruise missile. It is based on the Kh-55 nuclear-armed cruise missile that was developed during the Cold War, upgraded with Kh-101 technology. Both missiles are carried by Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers. The Kh-555 is a reworked Kh-55SM, which uses the Kh-101 homing system and replaces the nuclear warhead with a conventional one.
Russia will convert some Kh-55 nuclear capable missiles to the Kh-555 conventionally armed cruise missile, similar to American AGM-86. When fully integrated into operational units, the Kh-555 will provide Russia with the ability to strike high priority targets with precision from long ranges.
The nuclear warhead is replaced by a 500 kg class conventional warhead. These changes were estimated by Western intelligence to have reduced the range of the Kh-555 to 2,500-3,000 km compared to the Kh-55 range of 3,000-3,500 km. A deep modernization X-55 with improved navigation, Russian sources claim that the range is increased to almost 5000 km.
The Kh-555 has been in development for a number of years. During October 1999 test launches of the newest strategic cruise missiles passed qualifications. Following this the government made the decision to begin series production. In March 2000 it was reported that the Russian Air Force had tested a new cruise missile with a conventional warhead.
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