Russian Kh-101 missile packs double punch

Stories inform us that Russia is upgrading its air-launched cruise missile, the Kh-101, by including a second warhead. This adjustment successfully doubles its potential menace degree. The information of this modification got here following the interception of a variant of the Kh-101 missile by the Ukrainian air protection forces on March 29.  

Picture credit score: Telegram

Particulars from the @war_home Telegram channel revealed that the intercepted missile was outfitted with a further warhead, successfully doubling its whole payload. An examination of the missile’s particles indicated an elevated explosive payload mass from 400 to 800 kilograms, signifying its augmented damaging potential.  

In response to Ukrainian sources, this enhancement was achieved by lowering the scale of the gas tank. Though this transformation lowered the missile’s vary from 5,500 to roughly 2,250 kilometers, it created area for the additional warhead, with out compromising the missile’s operational effectiveness. 

Kh-101 and Kh-102 cruise missiles
Picture credit score: Reddit

Russia has warned in opposition to this idea

First talked about in January 2024 by Sergei Shoigu, head of the Russian Ministry of Protection, throughout his go to to “Raduga,” the missile design bureau, the twin warhead idea has lastly grow to be a actuality. As anticipated, these upgrades instigated a wave of concern in regards to the potential impression of ongoing conflicts. The Telegram channel “Polkovnyk HSH” gives some context, sharing images of the extra warheads and highlighting this breakthrough after analyzing a grounded Kh-101 missile from the latest March 29 assault. 

Alarmingly, the added warhead consists of pre-made damaging elements of a cubic form. These are usually present in anti-aircraft missiles, however now they pose an intensified menace to floor targets as effectively. Although the missile’s vary is decreased as a result of lowered gas tank dimension, the tactical effectiveness of the Kh-101 within the Russia-Ukraine battle stays largely unimpaired. Regardless of the lower within the distance, potential targets in western Ukraine proceed to be inside the missile’s attain, because of its vital maneuvering functionality. 

Russian Izdeliye 111 missile was caught throwing decoy missiles - Kh-101 missile
Picture credit score: Twitter

Within the mid-2010s, Russian sources mentioned the thought of the Kh-101 housing twin warheads, hinting on the feasibility of splitting the 400 kg warhead into two separate sections. That mentioned, the specifics of the discharge mechanism within the refurbished model stay undisclosed.

Russian Kh-101 Cruise Missile

The latest introduction of twin warheads within the Kh-101 attests to Russia’s relentless adaptation of its arsenal to satisfy the calls for of contemporary fight. This discovery comes after an incident in December 2023 when a Russian Kh-101 air-launched cruise missile was noticed deploying decoy flares throughout its flight. 

Russian Kh-101 stealth attack cruise missile use 35 US-made chips
Picture: Missile Risk

On the time, specialists speculated that the flares have been programmed to launch at particular coordinates, probably within the closing phases close to the goal or the place potential threats existed alongside the missile’s trajectory. Notable enhancements within the Kh-101’s steering system have additionally been noticed, with notable enhancements to its optical and digital techniques. 

The up to date Kh-101 now options three static lenses. This development enhances its accuracy in comparison with the earlier mannequin, which contained just one lens on a rotating platform with restricted tilt angles. The Kh-101 and its nuclear-equipped counterpart, the Kh-102, symbolize a big overhaul of the Kh-55/Kh-555 lineage, that includes stealth capabilities and different upgrades.

Used for the primary time in 2015

Watch: MiG-29 is maneuvering and shooting down a Russian Kh-101
Video screenshot

Designed to hold a 20-kiloton thermonuclear warhead, the Kh-102 variant serves as the first air-launched, nuclear-armed cruise missile for the Russian Aerospace Power [VKS]. Though it bears an exterior resemblance to the US AGM-158 JASSM air-launched cruise missile, the Kh-101 boasts a superior vary. 

Strategic bombers, just like the upgraded Tu-160M and Tu-95MSM, are outfitted to move the Kh-101, providing a wide range of warhead selections together with excessive explosive, penetration excessive explosive, and submunitions. The Kh-101 encompasses a dual-circuit turbojet engine, incorporating the R95TM-300 fashions. Upon activation, the engine extends from the physique and the tail unfolds, permitting for in-flight trajectory changes for the missile. 

Russia claims that Kh-101 missiles can theoretically hit transferring targets with a outstanding accuracy as much as 10 meters, and asserts normal round possible deviation of seven meters at ranges as much as 5,500 kilometers. Manufactured by the Raduga Design Bureau, Russia affirms that the Kh-101 includes Russian elements. 

Worries in Japan! The Kremlin sent two 'Bear' bombers near Tokyo - Tu-95MS bombers
Picture by Sergei Fedichev

The Kh-101 was first used operationally in November 2015 throughout Russia’s assist of Bashar al-Assad’s regime within the Syrian civil struggle. Whereas most of the preliminary missile strikes efficiently hit their targets, one missile reportedly fell on Iranian territory close to the town of Shush, situated 750 kilometers from the Syrian border.


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