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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Kh-101 / Kh-102 / X-101/102
Air Launched Cruise Missile

The stealthy airborne Kh-101 [the cyrilic letter "Chi" is seen as either Kh or X] is one of the most advanced cruise missiles in Russia's arsenal. The design is generally similar to the American AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile, though the nose has stealth contours such as those seen on the American aGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile. The Kh-101 is likely meant to replace the Kh-55, a subsonic air-launched cruise missile which has been in service since 1983. The Kh-101 was 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.

Developed by the Raduga Design Bureau, has a length of 7.45 meters (more than 24.4 feet) with a maximum launch weight of 2,400 kilograms (5,300 lb). The missile carries a 400-kilogram (880 lb) warhead. The Kh-102 variant carries a nuclear warhead with a yield variously reported at from 250 to 450 kT. The cruise missile is believed to have a range of up to 5,500 kilometers (over 3,400 miles). It is capable of travelling at a maximum speed of 270 m/s.

The missile has a low altitude flight profile, travelling at 30-70 meters (100-230 feet) above the ground. The Kh-101 uses GLONASS, the Russian satellite navigation system, for trajectory correction and is reported to have an accuracy of five to six meters. The missile has a combined homing system - inertial navigation, opto-electronic adjustment and other features. The maximum deviation from the target regardless of the distance is no greater than five-seven meters.

The missile’s guidance system has been upgraded. It is capable of receiving comprehensive information about the route and the target’s coordinates. In contrast to the previous generation missiles it is re-targetable. Certain control points on the route and the targets it can hit are included in the program. A different target can be selected during the combat mission.

Control and guidance systems are equipped with Optoelectronic Systems correction trajectory with a television guidance system at the final stage," "Octopus". The missile is equipped with an inertial guidance system using a digital computer with the correction of the digital reference map of the area correcting flight using data from a laser (optical-electronic) the altimeter or optical image areas. At the final stage of the flight, it may be using optical or radar correlation GOS.

The missile has a normal aerodynamic scheme with low pull-down after start draining. Wings in transport position folded under the fuselage of the central part of the side of the tail. Aerodynamic control surfaces and rocket motor are provided in the working position at start (the engine moves out of the fuselage and fixed to the pylon).

The long-range Kh 101 cruise missile under development by the Raduga Design Bureau and long-range aviation. 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 suggested 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.

Up to 12 Kh-101s can be carried internally by the Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack), while the Tupolev Tu-95 (Bear) is capable of carrying a maximum of eight of these missiles externally. The increased length of missiles compared with the X-55 makes it impossible to place them in the inner compartment of the Tu-95MS. The Tupolev-95MS strategic bomber was upgraded precisely for using this new generation missile. The pylons had to be redesigned and onboard electronics upgraded to make it possible to set flight tasks and perform other operations the use of the new missiles in combat may require. 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.

The Tu-160 to carry 12 Kh-101s in two internally carried rotary launchers. A re-arming plan for the Tu-160 under which the 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 program and the complete withdrawal of the Tu-160 from service was being considered. Subsequently it was decided to retain the Tu-160 in service, and indeed, production of the Tu-160M2 was restarted.

In 2022 the result of employing of X-101 missiles by the occupiers during the hostilities in Ukraine denied the claimed effectiveness. The electronic component base turned out to be very far from modern. ‘Modern’ russian Cruise Missiles Are Equipped with Electronics, Developed in the 1960s. The analysis of X-55 cruise missile guidance and navigation systems, as well as their modifications X-555 and X-101 conducted by Ukrainian experts showed that modern’ guidance units were developed in 1960s-1970s and produced by the Voronezh Plant of Radio Parts, Minsk plant "Integral" and other enterprises of the Soviet Union. In addition, the navigation system "PGI-2M" (was developed in 1977) is used in the ‘newest’ missiles. It was installed on Su-27 or MiH-29 aircrafts of the Soviet period. Most of the X-101 missiles fired on Ukraine, did not hit the targets. As they say – ‘there are no analogues’.

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Page last modified: 11-06-2022 17:56:15 ZULU