One Year of Russian – Ukrainian War, Kh-101 Stealth Cruise Missile Modified To Launch Flares

One Year of Russian – Ukrainian War, Kh-101 Stealth Cruise Missile Modified To Launch Flares

24 February 2023, marks the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the Russia versus Ukraine war. From the course of the war which has not yet shown that it will subside, there is news that Russia has launched the Kh-101 air-to-surface cruise missile in a modified variant. Launched from a strategic bomber, the Kh-101, whose profile is similar to that of a Tomahawk missile, is Russia's ultimate arsenal for targeting Ukraine's strategic targets.

Quoted from, in a briefing by the Military Media Center of Ukraine, Colonel Mykola Danyliuk from the representative of the defense research center, disclosed several new technologies found in the Kh-101 missile that had been shot down by the Ukrainian air defense system.

Modifications to the Kh-101 missile include the Kh-101's ability to launch flares after the missile system detects Ukrainian defense radar activity. 

According to recent disclosures by Ukrainian military specialists, Russia has allegedly started using an improvised version of the Kh-101 Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) for precision strikes against critical ground targets.

It said Russia launched a massive missile and drone attack across Ukraine on February 10, 2023. During that attack, the Ukrainian military military claimed to have shot down a Kh-101 ALCM produced in the first quarter of 2023.

The wreckage from the Kh-101 ALCM which was reported to have crashed in the Vinnytsia area, is said to still look quite intact, so an investigation can be carried out.

A circular window at the bottom of the missile body between the pop-out wing and what appears to be a camera behind it.

An investigation into the wreckage of the Kh-101 revealed that there was a camera behind what appeared to be a circular window. This camera has raised speculations as part of the Otblesk-U guidance system. Colonel Danyliuk claims that the camera found on the Kh-101 missile is a new camera with three fixed lenses that observes the surface at different angles. In contrast, older cameras had one rotating lens.

A circular window at the bottom of the missile body between the pop-out wing and what appears to be a camera behind it. Additionally, Danyliuk said the upgraded Kh-101 has changes in its guidance system, which makes it similar to the Tomahawk missile, which uses an internal database of relevant terrain imagery to help guide the weapon towards its target.

Furthermore, Danyliuk said that this system can work simultaneously with TERCOM (Terrain Contour Matching), which is a sensor that compares radio altimeter data with reference terrain data.

Apart from that, an investigation from Ukraine stated that there was a change in the electronic computing engine on the missile, namely using BAGET-62-04. What Ukraine has called evidence of Russia's military-industrial complex's dependence on foreign components.

Danyliuk noted that Russia had switched to new chips made by other manufacturers, due to differences in the size of the microcircuits used in the latest missiles and those used in older missile iterations.

Equipped with Flare Dispenser

An interesting new finding is the existence of a flare dispenser on the Kh-101 missile debris found in Vinnytsia. There are about a dozen circular holes in two symmetrical rows containing six flares each.

These flare holes are allegedly intended to provide a jamming measure such as chaff that would confuse an opposing air defense system's radar.

There are two variants of this missile, the Kh-101 is a variant that carries a conventional warhead (450 kg), and the Kh-102 is a variant that carries a nuclear warhead. The Kh-101 was designed to be detached from heavy bombers. 

For example, the Tu-95MS `Bear-H' can carry up to 8 Kh-101 cruise missiles, the Tu-160 Blackjack can carry 12 Kh-101 missiles.

The Kh-101 was first rolled out in October 1998 to carry Tu-160 bombers during exercises for the 37th Air Force. Enter the segment of air launched cruise missiles (ALCM). The Kh-101 is said to have stealth capabilities. This missile is designed to defeat enemy air defense systems by flying at low altitudes to avoid detection by enemy radars.

Kh-101's low altitude is 30 – 60 meters above sea level. While the maximum flight altitude is 6,000 meters. When flying at low altitudes, this missile relies on radar and infrared guidance systems.

While the material of the missile adopts a radar-absorbing composite material, which makes this missile difficult to detect. The Kh-10's accuracy is believed to be quite high by utilizing GLONASS satellite navigation and TV terminal guidance.

The Kh-101 is 7.45 meters long and 0.51 meters in diameter. At launch, the missile has 2,400 kg and is launched without a booster. The Kh-101 is powered by a TRDD-50A turbofan engine, giving it a cruising speed of Mach 0.58 and a maximum speed of Mach 0.78.

Speaking of range, the Kh-101 has a range of 2,800 km, although unconfirmed reports by the Russian Defense Ministry claim its maximum range is 4,500 km.

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