The Kh-55 strategic cruise missile is used for destroying fixed position targets; its guidance system combines inertial-Doppler navigation and position correction based on in-flight comparison of terrain in the assigned regions with images stored in the memory of an on-board computer.
The X-55 was designed according to normal aerodynamic configuration, with a straight wing of relatively great length, which in the off-position is retracted into the fuselage. The engine is located on a sliding pylon under the fuselage (in the off-position also it is located inside the rocket). In the construction of rocket measures for reduction in the radar and thermal signature were realized.
The propulsion system is a dual-flow engine located underneath the missile's tail. The engine is an advanced advanced turbofan. The fuselage is all-metal and of welded construction. The monoplane has a retractable wing inside the fuselage (into the tank compartment), which is folded (keel - one time, stabilizer - twice), with the steering tail assembly, sliding into the tail cone. The tank compartment in the middle part has an aperture under the wing. Inside the tank compartment is located an aperture under the engine. The complexity of the tank compartment predetermined the major cycle of assembling glider. The monolithic fairing around the motor was made from the hollow silicon cloth.
This weapon began with work by Raduga Mechanical Design Bureau (MKB Raduga) in 1968 on a long-range, subsonic antiship cruise missile. American sources claim this missile was based on the US Tomahawk, the blueprints of which the Soviets acquired at an early design stage. It does resemble the Tomahawk SLCM, leading it to be called "Tomahawkski"
But Russian sources claim that Raduga presented the Soviet government with an initiative-taking proposal four years prior to the beginning of cruise missile work in the USA in 1975. But the program did not find proper acknowledgement. Only when the western press addressed the creation by the Americans of the new class of missile was a similar development effort decided on in the Soviet Union. Work was executed within the very short times and it was strictly according to initial plans.
For production and testing the test batch of rockets X-55 was given special attention from MKB Raduga (led by I.S. Seleznev) and the Ministry of Aviation Industry (led by I.S. Silayev). Ivan Stepanovich Silayev had studied Kazan Aviation Institute, worked as engineer in the military-industrial complex in Gorky (now Nizhniy-Novgorod) from 1954 through 1974, was promoted to plant director 1971, and won a Lenin Prize in 1972. He was deputy minister of aircraft industry of the USSR from 1974 through 1980, and served as the Minister from 20 February 1981 though 01 November 1985. A member of the Communist Party 1959-91 and of its Central Committee 1981-91, Silayev emerged as a reformer in 1990, founding the Democratic Reform Movement (with former foreign minister Shevardnadze After the failure of the August 1991 anti-Gorbachev attempted coup, he was appointed Soviet prime minister and given charge of the economy until December 1991.
Because of the good scientific and technical resources available at that time, MKB Raduga and its subsidaries did not lag behind the Americans with the creation and completion of strategic cruise missiles. The Soviet program was realized with the considerably smaller expenditures and within the strictly established periods. It began in the middle of 1976, and the first tests of this missile were conducted in 1978. Testing was completed in the middle of 1982, and it was operational on 31 December 1983, with a few units were installed on Tu-95MS aircraft in 1984.
Within this compressed period was created and original flight vehicle with folding wing and tail assembly, and also with the turbofan engine, which is placed inside the fuselage and advanced downward before the uncoupling of rocket from the aircraft. This entire complex mechanism at first caused large displeasure of a number of the scientific institutes of the aircraft industry, and their first estimations at the stage of draft designing were very negative. However, subsequently the opinion changed.
The application of new methods of navigation became one of the essential differences in the data of cruise missiles from the previous systems of aviation arms. Essentially this ensured autonomous flight independent of weather conditions. For these purposes there was prepared corresponding cartographic products of digital charts.
The compressed development period required new organization of tests. Thus a command- test center was created on the base of aircraft Il-76. These machines, which was called name Skip IL-76MD, ensured continuous monitoring of telemetric and other information about the flying missile, safety with the tests, substantially decreased capital expenditures for the building of ground-based measuring route points.
At the stage of the creation of the complexes of armaments with cruise missiles there was a sharp discussion about where the carrier of the flight mission must be located: on the rocket or on the aircraft; as (centralized or decentralized) must be prepared flight mission. The concept of a strict centralization conquered, that does give the possibility to employ missile, independently of in whose hands it was located.
Work on creation strategic cruise missile was evaluated by the management of the country very highly. Their participants were honored with five State Prizes of the USSR and one Lenin prize. A total of 1500 people obtained various government rewards.
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