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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Raduga Kh-22 (AS-4 Kitchen)

Built by A. Berezhnyak's "Raduga" engineering group for Tu-22 and Tu-22M aircraft, the Kh-22 can also be deployed on modified Tu-95K-22 aircraft. During experimental tests conducted from the late nineteen fifties to the early nineteen sixties the Kh-22B version had reached a speed of Mach 6 and an altitude of about 70 km. Since 1974, after the death of Alexander Berezhnyak, the Raduga chief engineer became Igor Seleznyev. The Kh-22 missile comes in three variants: 1. Kh-22N with a nuclear warhead and inertial guidance; 2. Kh-22M with a conventional load for use against ships and with an active-radar operating during the final flight stage; 3. Kh-22MP for breaking through enemy air defenses (overcoming enemy radar). These missiles have different modifications (X -22M, X-22MA, X -22N, X -22NA, etc.), i.e., rocket had many versions depending on the conditions for application (purpose), with the autonomous system for guidance ARLGSN or PRLGSN, etc.

the Soviet heavy anti-ship missiles Kh-22, which became the "main caliber" of the Soviet long-range supersonic jet bombers Tu-22 and Tu-22M. In the Soviet Union, long-range bombers were one of the main means of fighting aircraft carrier strike groups (AUG) of a potential enemy and were carriers of heavy aircraft anti-ship cruise missiles (ASC). Most of the Soviet long-range bombers served in the missile-carrying regiments of the naval aviation.

The development of the Kh-22 "Tempest" missile (AS-4 "Kitchen" by NATO classification) began in 1958, and in 1967 the first modification of this missile was adopted. The Kh-22 missile was used to arm the Tu-22 bombers' regiments. Around the same time, a heavy aviation anti-ship missile system KSR-5 was adopted for service for Tu-16 subsonic bombers.

The flight characteristics of these missiles at that time were truly fantastic. The Kh-22 rocket had a flight speed above 3M (M is the Mach number equal to the speed of sound at a given altitude). The rocket was launched at an altitude of 10-12 kilometers, after which the starting engine accelerated it and "raised" it to an altitude of over 20 kilometers, at which the missiles performed most of the flight, then the main engine was launched, which ensured the rocket's flight to the target, and a few tens of kilometers before the target began to dive towards it at an angle of 30 degrees. The most powerful high-explosive-cumulative warhead weighing 900 kg burned a huge hole in the enemy's ship to a depth of 12 meters, which left no chance for any non-aeronautical ship and made it possible to inflict extremely heavy damage on an aircraft carrier. The KSR-5 cruise missile (AS-6 "Kingfish" according to NATO classification) for Tu-16 bombers had comparable characteristics.

However, these missiles also had extremely significant drawbacks limiting their combat effectiveness, the main of which was actually the lack of jamming immunity of the homing head (GOS) of the missile, which operated at only one frequency. It was almost impossible to shoot down these missiles by means of air defense of the 70s, only by the mid-1980s, when shipborne air defense systems of a new generation appeared, and the Ticonderoga-class cruisers equipped with the Aegis multifunctional weapon control system began to enter service in the US Navy. there was a possibility of their defeat.

It is worth noting that targets with the same characteristics as the Kh-22 are still extremely difficult even for modern air defense systems. The main means of dealing with X-22 missiles from the side of the potential enemy were shipborne electronic warfare systems. The first modifications of the Kh-22 missiles had a seeker with a detection range of a large surface ship of the order of 300 kilometers. To use these missiles, it was required that their seeker captured the enemy ship while still on the carrier. And in the conditions of counteraction of high-power jamming ship stations, target acquisition on the carrier was extremely difficult. The low noise immunity of the rocket made it possible to suppress its seeker, and also made it extremely "susceptible" to passive interference.

For this reason, one of the many developed schemes for the combat use of missiles included a preliminary strike "on areas" with X-22 missiles with a nuclear warhead, in the area where the enemy's AUG was located in order to disable the electronic warfare means, after which the main group was to strike missiles with a conventional warhead. It is worth noting that this option was one of dozens of developed AUG attack schemes by naval missile-carrying aviation, in addition, it is more characteristic of the very first modifications of the X-22. However, this attack scheme is firmly entrenched in the "popular consciousness" and is very often cited in various articles on the possibility of fighting AUG, as "proof" of the impossibility of destroying an enemy aircraft carrier without the use of nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, the improvement of the X-22 continued almost until the end of the Cold War. In the 1970s, a new version of the missile, the Kh-22MA, was created, intended for the new Tu-22M bombers, and in 1976, the Kh-22N and Kh-22NA missiles, designed for the most advanced version of the Tu-22M - Tu- 22M3. The flight speed of the Kh-22N was brought to 4 thousand kilometers per hour - more than a kilometer per second! The noise immunity of the homing head has significantly improved - now it was made on a semiconductor element base. However, the noise immunity still remained low, since provided by switching to several fixed frequencies.

However, the active seeker was supplemented with an inertial navigation system (INS), which made it possible to launch a rocket into the area where the enemy's AUG was located, and most of the way to the target, the rocket flew "autonomously" and only in the final phase of the flight was the GOS turned on, the search for the target and the aiming at it. Such innovations have significantly increased the likelihood of hitting an enemy aircraft carrier in the event of intense electronic countermeasures. The Kh-22NA missile had only an inertial guidance system with route correction in accordance with a digital terrain map.

In addition, the highest flight characteristics of the rocket were "bought" at a very high price. The Kh-22 has a liquid-propellant rocket engine, for which the rocket's tanks must be filled with three thousand liters of extremely toxic fuel, the main components of which are asymmetric heptyl and concentrated nitric acid. Refueling of these missiles is an extremely difficult and dangerous operation that requires strict adherence to safety precautions (refueling is carried out by personnel only in chemical protection suits) and is carried out immediately before the bomber takes off. It is impossible to store rockets fueled with actively "floating" oxidizer and no less toxic fuel for a long time. If the fuel is drained, the rocket tanks must be rinsed with a special neutralizing solution and dried. In addition, the rocket itself weighs about 6 tons, has a length of almost 12 meters, a diameter of 0.9 meters and a wingspan of over 3 meters.

This does not allow placing the X-22 inside the bomb bay of the Tu-22M3 bomber, so the Long-Range Aviation missile carriers can only carry it on an external sling. And this, in turn, significantly increases air resistance during flight and limits the maximum speed of the Tu-22M3 - when placing a combat load inside the aircraft, it can reach a speed of 2M, while flying with 2 X-22 - no more than 1.8M. However, these shortcomings have to be put up with, in exchange for the highest flight characteristics of the rocket. Suspension of a fueled rocket weighing 6 tons under the wing of a bomber is also extremely difficult. To transport one missile (for example, to another airfield), a transport aircraft with dimensions and carrying capacity of at least An-12 or a railway platform is required.

Thus, the preparation of the combat use of Tu-22M3 bombers is an extremely difficult and difficult task, requiring at least several hours of time and is possible only in the conditions of the largest airfields with all the necessary infrastructure.

In view of the numerous shortcomings of the X-22 family of missiles, in the late 1980s, work began on a deep modernization of this missile. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the crisis of the 1990s did not allow the implementation of the modernization program for this missile. Work on the creation of a new rocket based on the Kh-22 - Kh-32 was continued only at the beginning of the new millennium.

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Page last modified: 09-11-2020 18:35:06 ZULU