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[6.0] Soviet-Russian Air-Launched Cruise Missiles

v2.0.1 / chapter 6 of 7 / 01 oct 04 / greg goebel / public domain

* The Soviets embraced the cruise missile and the stand-off missile to an even greater extent than the West. They developed a bewildering number of different types, and details of these weapons are only now becoming available in the West. This chapter outlines what is known about Soviet-Russian air-launched cruise missiles and long-range ASMs.


[6.1] ORIGINS OF SOVIET CRUISE MISSILES: V-1 CLONES / LAVOCHKIN BURYA
[6.2] KS-1 KOMETA (AS-1 KENNEL)
[6.3] KSR-2/11 (AS-5 KELT)
[6.4] KH-20 (AS-3 KANGAROO) / K-10 (AS-2 KIPPER)
[6.5] KH-22 (AS-4 KITCHEN) / KSR-5 (AS-6 KINGFISH)
[6.6] KH-15 (AS-16 KICKBACK) / KH-55 (AS-15 KENT) / KH-101

[6.1] ORIGINS OF SOVIET CRUISE MISSILES: V-1 CLONES / LAVOCHKIN BURYA

* Soviet engineering design doctrine and military requirements differed from those of the West, and if it is difficult to categorize Western missiles, it is exasperating to try to categorize Soviet missiles. For example, while the Americans developed long-range cruise missiles and air-launched standoff missiles for long-range strategic attack, the Soviet emphasis in development of such weapons was almost equally for strategic and antiship attack, as "equalizers" against Western naval dominance. Such long-range antiship weapons had no equivalents in the West. The difference in military philosophies and the choppy data available for Soviet missiles at present make a detailed description of the topic difficult.

The Soviets apparently did consider using piston-powered cruise missiles in World War II, but details are vague and in any case nothing came of the efforts. More significantly, in October 1944, the British sent the remains of a V-1 that had been shot down over England to the USSR. The Soviets found it very interesting, and promptly set up a design bureau, designated "OKB-51" to reverse-engineer it. The team was led by Vladimir Chelomei, who would later become famous for directing development of the big Soviet Proton space launch booster.

The V-1 provided by the British was lacking a few significant parts, but special Red Army detachments assigned to collect "loot" in the wake of the advance of front-line troops were able to provide more gear. The Mittelwerk facility at Nordhausen fell into the Soviet zone of control of occupied Germany, and though the Americans had hastily cleaned a great deal of gear out of the mine before the Red Army arrived, there was still material left over.

In any case, by early 1945 the Chelomei group was building copies of the V-1, designated the "10Kh", roughly meaning "X-10" since the Cyrillic "Kh" character resembles an "X". By April, test flights were being performed over the steppes of Central Asia, with the missiles launched from Petlyakov Pe-8 heavy bombers. Work was also performed on a ship-launched variant, the "10KhN", and a ground-launched variant, the "10KhM", but flight tests showed the missiles to be unsatisfactory both in capability and reliability, and so OKB-51 went back to the drawing board, building a "14Kh" with twin pulsejet engines, a triple-fin tail, and many improvements. It was followed in turn by the "16Kh", with a similar configuration but a twin-fin tail.

Testing went on through the late 1940s. A large number of these missiles were built and tested in a wide range of configurations, with different launch schemes and guidance systems, such as a TV seeker. However, the Soviet military found the weapon much too inaccurate to be useful, and such missiles as had survived testing ended up being used as target drones.

* Before proceeding on to the mainstream of Soviet cruise and standoff missile development, it is interesting to discuss how the USSR tried to develop long-range air-breathing cruise missiles in the 1950s, functionally something like the ill-fated American Navaho but with a considerably different configuration.

The two programs were initiated by the powers-that-be in the spring of 1954. Semyon Lavochkin's aircraft design bureau, well known for its La-7 and La-11 fighters of World War II, was to work on a system with the designation of "La-350 Burya (Storm)", while Vladimir Myaschishev's aircraft design bureau was to work on a parallel system with the designation of "M-40 Buran (Blizzard)".

Both projects had similar specifications: Mach 3 performance over intercontinental range to deliver a nuclear warhead, using a cruise stage powered by one very big ramjet. The ramjet was designed by Bondaryuk and was installed in an airframe whose design was based on recommendations from the Soviet Central Aerodynamics & Hydrodynamics Research Institute (TsAGI in its Russian acronym). The cruise stage was to feature an INS with star-tracking capabilities. Beyond these constraints, the two designs were different; the authorities chose two parallel efforts to give a backup in case one of the projects failed.

The cruise stages of both weapons were roughly similar in appearance, not surprising since they both used the same powerplant and were based on the same TsAGI aerodynamic recommendations. They both were in the form of "flying stovepipes" with a prominent ramjet intake cone and featured an "area ruled" fuselage, with the diameter reduced as the wing cross section increased to ensure the minimum change in total cross-section; strongly sweptback cropped delta wings; and a tail assembly with tailplane and tailfins. The astronavigation kit was stowed in a dorsal fairing. The Lavochkin Burya was to be launched by twin liquid-fuel boosters modified from the R-11 (NATO "Scud") battlefield missile, while the Myashischev Burlak was to be launched by four smaller liquid-fuel boosters from the Glushko rocket design bureau,

Lavochkin was the first to get hardware flying, with initial launch attempts in the summer of 1957. The first three launch attempts were dismal and catastrophic failures. Such things happen in development, but the news came that the Americans had cancelled the Navaho, while Soviet efforts to develop true ICBMs were beginning to seem very promising. The Myashischev Buran was cancelled without ever reaching flight status in November 1957, but the Lavochkin Burya effort was continued, apparently partly as a research effort, though the Lavochkin design was also promoted as a high-speed reconnaissance drone.

There were 18 launches into late 1960. There were four failures, not a bad rate given the complexity of the system, and by 1961 it had matured to the point where it might have been fielded, had the will been there. In its developed form, the weapon was capable of a range of 6,500 kilometers (4,040 miles) with cruise at Mach 3.2 and a 2,350 kilogram (5,180 pound) payload. Missile mass was 97,215 kilograms (214,000 pounds). Total length was 22 meters (72.2 feet).

The Lavochkin organization saw the technology as a useful step to a reusable launch vehicle. However, the will wasn't there: Soviet ICBM efforts were moving full speed ahead, and the axe fell on the Burya. No major hardware survives. The Lavochkin organization would go on to become a major designer of space satellites.

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[6.2] KS-1 KOMETA (AS-1 KENNEL)

* Although the Soviet efforts to build improved derivatives of the V-1 and a heavy strategic cruise missile went nowhere, the Soviets were not lacking in persistence and had a number of other programs in motion that would pay off.

The OKB-155 design bureau led by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich, known by its famous acronym "MiG", was making great progress with jet fighter design in the postwar period. In late 1947, OKB-155 set up a branch under Alexander I. Beresniak, who had worked on rocket-propelled manned interceptors during the war, to use the same design concepts to develop a turbojet-powered cruise missile, designated the "Kometa". This effort was perceived as more promising than Chelomei's work on V-1 derivatives, and in early 1953 Chelomei's OKB-51 was disbanded, with the MiG OKB taking over its facilities.

Apparently one of the reasons the MiG OKB missile branch was favored was because one of the high officials in the group was Sergei Beria, the son of Lavrenti Beria, the powerful and feared head of Soviet security services. The missile offshoot of the MiG OKB would become an independent organization, surviving to this day as the MKB Raduga organization. The details of the evolution of the organization name are unclear, so it will simply be referred to here as the "Raduga" organization for simplicity.

As the Kometa emerged, it looked very much like a half-scale unpiloted MiG-15 fighter. Initially, the Kometa was to be powered by an RD-20 turbojet, a copy of the German BMW-003, but it wasn't powerful enough, and so a RD-500K, a copy of the British Rolls Royce Derwent V turbojet designed for expendable operation, was used instead. Three piloted versions known as "Analogs" were built for testing, with first flight in January 1951. The Analog looked something like a "toy" jet fighter, with a cockpit and canopy crammed into limited space, and bicycle retractable landing gear with wingtip outriggers. MiG-9 fighters were also modified to test the guidance system.

The test program went forward quickly and the type went into production in late 1952 as the "KS-1". It was initially built in an air-launched version, with one carried under each wing of a Tupolev Tu-16 "Badger" jet bomber. NATO assigned the type the codename of "AS-1 Kennel".

The KS-1 resembled a small jet fighter with swept wings and tail, and an engine intake in the nose. It was guided during midcourse flight by a K-2 radio control link, and was fitted with a K-1 active radar seeker for terminal attack. There was a pod at the top of the tailfin for the radio link, and a bulbous radome on the upper lip of the engine intake for the active radar seeker. The KS-1 could carry an 800 kilogram (1,765 pound) conventional warhead or a nuclear warhead.

   KS-1 KOMETA (AS-1 KENNEL):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                4.9 meters          16 feet 1 inch
   length                  8.29 meters         27 feet 2 inches
   total weight            2,735 kilograms     6,030 pounds
   warhead weight          1,000 kilograms     2,200 pounds
   speed                   subsonic 
   range                   100 kilometers      60 MI / 55 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

The KS-1 was also produced as a surface-to-surface weapon, designated "KFR-1" (NATO codename "SSC-1A Salish"), with an inertial guidance system; and as a coastal defense weapon, the "S-2 Sopka" (NATO codename "SSC-2B Samlet"), with a guidance system like that of the air-launched variant. Both were launched off a rail on a truck trailer using a single RATO booster.

Training missions for KS-1 launches were performed with a Badger bomber carrying a piloted MiG-15 (or, later, MiG-17) fighter fitted with the KS-1 guidance system. The fighter was carried into the air and released to fly a missile mission profile, up to shortly before "impact", when the fighter pilot took control back and went back home.

In the late 1950s, an improved version of the KS-1 was fielded, with folding wings and increased fuel capacity to stretch its range to 150 kilometers (95 miles). The KS-1 and its derivatives were exported to some Soviet client states, but by the late 1960s the type was obsolete, lacking in range as well as the speed and sophistication to penetrate adversary defenses, and it appears they were all out of service by the mid-1970s.

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[6.3] KSR-2/11 (AS-5 KELT)

* The deficiencies of the KS-1 Kometa were apparent early on, and in 1957 Raduga was tasked with development of an improved follow-on. The "KSR-2", as the result was known, was clearly influenced by the KS-1 but was aerodynamically cleaner, and was powered by a liquid-fuel rocket engine using storable propellants -- hydrazine fuel and nitric acid oxidizer. The engine had two chambers, one for boost thrust and one for cruise flight.

Test flights began in 1959. The KSR-2 did not do very well in tests, but it was fielded anyway, with one carried under each wing of a Badger bomber. The missile had a simple, clean configuration, with a fuselage somewhat resembling a drop tank, swept wings like those of the KS-1, and a swept tail assembly of conventional arrangement. The wings could be folded for storage, and there was a prominent duct running down the belly. As with other large Soviet ASMs, it was designed for both strategic and antiship attack. It used a gyroscopic INS for mid-course guidance and an active radar seeker for terminal attack. It could be fitted with a nuclear warhead or a conventional hollow-charge armor piercing warhead weighing 850 kilograms (1,875 pounds).

The initial production KSR-2 led to a "defense suppression" weapon, the "KSR-11", with a passive radar seeker for attacking adversary radars at air-defense sites. It could be fitted with a hollow-charge armor-piercing or blast-fragmentation conventional warhead. The KSR-2/11 was assigned the NATO codename of "AS-5 Kelt". As with the KS-1, the KSR-2/11 was exported to a number of Soviet client states, and is also now out of service.

   KSR-2/11 (AS-5 KELT):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                4.5 meters          14 feet 9 inches
   length                  8.65 meters         28 feet 5 inches
   total weight            4,000 kilograms     8,820 pounds
   speed                   transonic
   range                   170 kilometers      105 MI / 90 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

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[6.4] KH-20 (AS-3 KANGAROO) / K-10 (AS-2 KIPPER)

* One of the earlier large air-launched missiles developed by Raduga was the "Kh-20" (NATO codename "AS-3 Kangaroo)", which was an element of the "K-20" weapons system, where the "K" stood for "Komplex". The Kh-20 was a nuclear-armed airbreathing cruise missile with swept wings, apparently leveraged off technology from the MiG-19 fighter. MiG-19s were said to have been used to evaluate technology for the missile. It was one of the biggest air-launched weapons ever developed.

The Kh-20 missile had a nose intake that was covered with a fairing before the missile was dropped from the launch aircraft, misleadingly suggesting that the Kh-20 was rocket-powered. It was guided by an INS, with a radio datalink backup; it had no terminal guidance but was armed with a large nuclear warhead. It could be used for attacks on land targets or Western fleet elements. It was deployed in the early 1960s and was carried by the "Tu-95 Bear" bomber. The Bear was the only first-line Soviet aircraft of the time that could lift the thing, with the missile carried semi-recessed into the bombbay. The Kh-20 was too slow and vulnerable and required continuous guidance from the launch aircraft, and so it had a short service life.

   KH-20 (AS-3 KANGAROO):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                9.15 meters         29 feet 9 inches
   length                  14.95 meters        49 feet
   total weight            11,000 kilograms    22,275 pounds
   speed                   high subsonic cruise, supersonic attack
   range                   650 kilometers      400 MI / 350 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

* Raduga followed the Kh-20 with a more successful air-launched air-breathing cruise missile, the "K-10" (NATO designation "AS-2 Kipper"). It leveraged off technology for the MiG-19 fighter but was in no way a derivative, the two weapons being totally unlike in appearance. The K-10 had a dartlike fuselage, swept mid-mounted folding wings, a swept tail assembly, and an RD-9FK afterburning turbojet mounted under the belly. The RD-9FK was an expendable version of the RD-9 turbojet used on the MiG-19.

The initial "K-10S" antiship variant was introduced in the early 1960s. It was followed by a series of variants:

A single K-10 engine could be carried under the belly of a Badger bomber. It was used an INS with an active radar seeker.

   RADUGA K-10 (AS-2 KIPPER):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                4.18 meters         13 feet 8 inches
   length                  9.75 meters         32 feet
   total weight            4,500 kilograms     9,920 pounds
   speed                   2,030 KPH           1,260 MPH / 1,095 KT
   range                   200 kilometers      125 MI / 110 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   The increased-range variants had a smaller warhead and more efficient
   engine, increasing reach to 325 kilometers / 200 miles / 175 NMI.

The K-10 apparently suffered from reliability problems. In 1964, a K-10SND with a live warhead was launched on a test shot over Far Eastern coastal waters, and decided to obtain a lock on a Japanese timber vessel, the SHINE MARU, that had picked up a load from a Soviet port and strayed into a range area. The missile was commanded to self-destruct at the very last moment, and a Japanese crewman was wounded. The K-10 is now out of service.

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[6.5] KH-22 (AS-4 KITCHEN) / KSR-5 (AS-6 KINGFISH)

* The "Kh-22" missile (NATO codename "AS-4 Kitchen)", part of the "K-22" weapons system, was a supersonic rocket powered weapon. It had a pencil-shaped fuselage, with twin delta wings and a cruciform tail assembly; the bottom tailfin folded sideways to provide takeoff clearance. The rocket was liquid-fueled, using storable hydrazine and nitric acid propellants, and has two rocket chambers, one for boost and one for long-range cruise.

The Kh-22 was guided by a gyroscopic INS, with a Doppler radar altimeter. The guidance system was evaluated on modified MiG-19 fighters. There were three initial variants: the "Kh-22", an antiship variant with an active radar terminal seeker and a conventional warhead; the "Kh-22P", a "defense suppression" variant with a passive radar homing terminal seeker and a nuclear warhead, intended to crush adversary air-defense sites; and the "Kh-22N" version for strategic attacks. The missile performed a high-altitude pop-up attack to descend on the target at Mach 2.5. It followed a "semi-ballistic" trajectory, with either a relatively shallow pop-up to medium altitudes followed by a Mach 1.2 dive towards the target, or a stratospheric pop-up followed by a Mach 2.5 dive towards the target.

Raduga began work on the Kh-22 in 1958 and it was first deployed in the mid-1960s. A Bear bomber could carry one under the centerline; it also had a pylon mounted on each wing close to the wing root, allowing it to carry two Kh-22s. Pictures exist of Bears carrying three Kh-22s but this was apparently not a practical operational load. One can be carried under the belly by the "Tu-22 Blinder" or "Tu-22M Backfire" supersonic bombers, with another possibly carried under each wing.

In the 1970s, two improved variants were introduced: the "Kh-22M", for antiship and precision land attack, with a new HI-LO attack profile; and the "Kh-22MA", with a LO-LO attack profile. Both variants added improved counter-countermeasures and a datalink for course corrections. The Kh-22 was obsolescent by the late 1970s but has lingered on since that time.

   KH-22 (AS-4 KITCHEN):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                3.35 meters         11 feet
   length                  11.3 meters         37 feet 
   total weight            5,900 kilograms     13,000 pounds
   warhead weight          1,100 kilograms     2,425 pounds

   speed                   supersonic
   range                   440 kilometers      270 MI / 235 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

* The Kh-22 was a bit too big for smaller bombers, and so a scaled-down variant, the "KSR-5" (NATO codename "AS-6 Kingfish)", was built. First flight was in 1964, with introduction to service in 1969. It had a little more than two-thirds the launch weight of the Kh-22, but was otherwise so similar that it is difficult to tell the two weapons apart -- the most distinctive difference is that the Kh-22 / AS-4 had a ventral fin under the belly. The general airframe configuration is the same, and like the Kh-22 the KSR-5 is powered by a liquid-fuel engine with storable propellants. Some older sources claim it used solid propulsion, but this is incorrect.

The KSR-5 can be fitted with a conventional or nuclear warhead. Mid-course guidance is by an INS, with terminal guidance either by an active radar seeker or a passive radar seeker. The KSR-5 was deployed in the 1970s. The basic weapon was followed by variants with more sophisticated penetration capabilities, including the "KSR-5N" and "KSR-5M", though details are unclear. At last notice it was still in service. It is carried on Tu-16 Badgers, with one missile under each wing.

   KSR-5 (AS-6 KINGFISH):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                2.6 meters          8 feet 6 inches
   length                  10.56 meters        34 feet 8 inches
   total weight            4,500 kilograms     9,920 pounds
   warhead weight          1,000 kilograms     2,200 pounds
   speed                   Mach 3
   range                   300 kilometers      185 MI / 160 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

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[6.6] KH-15 (AS-16 KICKBACK) / KH-55 (AS-15 KENT) / KH-101

* Even the fast KSR-5 left something to be desired. Storable rocket propellants are corrosive and highly toxic, making them difficult to handle, and the KSR-5's range and capability were inadequate. In the 1970s, the US Navy developed the Grumman F-14 Tomcat interceptor, which featured long-range Phoenix air-to-air missiles. The Tomcat / Phoenix combination, backed up by the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye carrier-based radar early warning aircraft, presented a clear threat to Soviet bombers operating in the antiship role. The Hawkeye could provide long-range "eyes" for the Tomcat, which had long range and endurance, allowing it to fire a Phoenix at a Soviet bomber long before the Red aircraft got within range of a carrier group. If the bomber did manage to take a shot with a cruise missile, the Phoenix might well shoot the missile down.

The Tomcat / Phoenix / Hawkeye threat led the Soviets to develop the low-level launch versions of the Kh-22 and KSR-5 missiles, and also to work on a missile that was much harder to intercept. The Soviets were impressed enough by the Boeing SRAM that Raduga developed an equivalent, the "Kh-15 (AS-16 Kickback)", which has almost the same external appearance as the SRAM. It was the first Soviet large ASM with solid-fuel rocket propulsion.

The Kh-15 is a simple spike of a missile with three tailfins. The resemblance to SRAM is so close that it is tempting to refer to the Kh-15 as "SRAMski". Unlike SRAM, however, as with the other large Soviet ASMs, the Kh-15 was designed for both strategic and antiship attack. There are three versions: the standard Kh-15 nuclear-armed strategic variant, with inertial guidance only; a conventionally-armed antiship variant, the "Kh-15A", with an active radar terminal seeker; and an antiradar variant, the "Kh-15P", with a passive radar seeker. An export version of the Kh-15A, the "Kh-15S", was also built. After launch, the missile climbs to the edge of space and then dives on the target steeply at Mach 5, making it very hard to hit.

   KH-15 (AS-16 KICKBACK):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   length                  4.78 meters         15 feet 8 inches
   diameter                45.5 centimeters    1 foot 6 inches
   total weight            1,200 kilograms     2,645 pounds
   warhead weight          150 kilograms       330 pounds
   speed                   Mach 5
   range                   300 kilometers      185 MI / 160 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

Raduga began work on the Kh-15 in the late 1960s and it was accepted for service in the early 1980s. A Tu-22M Backfire bomber can carry six Kh-15s in a revolver launcher in the weapons bay, plus four more under the wings. It is also carried by the Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bomber.

* Since the Americans were developing air launched and submarine launched cruise missiles, the Soviets of course had to develop them as well. Raduga developed a strategic nuclear ALCM that resembles the Tomahawk SLCM, leading it to be called "Tomahawkski", and designated the "Kh-55" (NATO codename "AS-15 Kent)". This weapon began with work by Raduga in 1968 on a long-range, subsonic antiship cruise missile. Raduga also suggested that the weapon could be used for land-attack using a terrain-following navigation system. The powers that be regarded the terrain-following option as unrealistic. Development went ahead on the antiship variant, which was given the Kh-55 designation.

However, in the late 1970s, the realization that the Americans were working on terrain-following cruise missiles led to a reconsideration of priorities, and in fact led to a frenzy of development work on advanced air-launched strategic missiles. OKB-52 proposed a ramjet-powered weapon codenamed "Meteorit" that would have Mach 2+ performance and a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles). It was something along the lines of of the US Skybolt, but like Skybolt it proved far too ambitious, with a series of tests through the 1980s ending mostly in failures. That left the field to the more conservative Raduga offering, and development of the land-attack version, which was given the "Kh-55" designation, was authorized. First flight of the Kh-55 was in 1978, with production beginning in 1981 and introduction to service in 1983.

The Kh-55 has pop-out wings and fins, and has an INS to get to the target area and terrain-following system for terminal attack. It differs visibly from the Tomahawk in that its entire R95-300 turbofan engine is extended out of the fuselage after launch, not just the air intake.

   KH-55 / AS-15 KENT (ESTIMATED SPECIFICATIONS):
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                3 meters            10 feet
   length                  6 meters            19 feet 7 inches
   total weight            1,500 kilograms     3,300 pounds
   speed                   subsonic
   range                   2,500 kilometers    1,550 MI / 1,350 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

Production of a stretched-range version, the "Kh-55SM", began in 1986. The Kh-55SM, which has the NATO designation "AS-15B", has TERCOM navigation like the ALCM's, and has additional fuel tanks scabbed onto the sides, giving it an estimated range of 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles). It is armed with a 200 kilotonne nuclear warhead.

Kh-55 series missiles are carried by Bear and Blackjack heavy bombers. The Bear can carry six in an internal rotary launcher. It can also carry more Kh-55s externally, though in an overload flight condition: two are carried on a stores attachment between the fuselage and inboard engine, and three are carried on a stores attachment between the two engines on each wing, for a total of ten missiles. Roughly 1,500 Kh-55s were built into the early 1990s.

* A naval version of the Kh-55SM designated "3K-10 Granat" (NATO codename "SS-N-21 Sampson") was built in parallel. Sources hint that it was strictly submarine launched. There are sketchy reports of an experimental derivative of the 3K-10 named the "3M-55 (SS-N-27)" that is intended for the antiship role, and has a "warhead" that is actually a solid fuel missile that performs a terminal attack at Mach 2.5 speed.

There was also production of a limited batch of a ground-launched version for the Red Army, the "RK-55" (NATO codename "SSC-X-4 Slingshot") that was comparable to the US GLCM, but the INF treaty that killed off the GLCM killed off the RK-55 as well.

The Kh-55 series is now being followed by an improved long-range cruise missile, designed the "Kh-101". Notional descriptions of the Kh-101 envision it as having the class "aerial torpedo" configuration of modern long-range cruise missiles, but with swept flight surfaces and use of radar absorbing materials, conformal antennas, and other stealth technologies. It features an INS, presumably backed up by a satellite navigation system receiver, for midcourse guidance, with precision terminal attack using an image matching system. Its high precision permits use of a conventional warhead, though there is a "Kh-102" version with a nuclear warhead. In addition, Kh-55 series missiles are being upgraded with Kh-101 technology, with the modernized missiles logically designated "Kh-555". At least some of the Kh-555s feature a conventional warhead.

Conflicting reports suggest that the Kh-101 has either an engine configuration like that of the Kh-55, with a turbofan that pops out the bottom of the tail, or a turboprop engine driving a pusher contraprop system at the tail, with propeller blades made of low-RF-signature materials. It is possible that different propulsion schemes were evaluated.

* There is also a "Kh-SD" tactical version of the Kh-101 with reduced range and a larger warload, including either a penetrating warhead or a cluster-munition warhead. It may be an improved design of the "Kh-65" precision-attack cruise missile, which was promoted by the Russians in the early 1990s, along with a "Kh-65E" antiship variant. The whole business of next-generation Russian air-launched cruise missiles is a bit confusing. Although the Russians have become substantially less secrecy-minded since the fall of the USSR, some of the old habit lingers, and to compound matters during the 1990s Russian weapons manufacturers did a lot of "thrashing", throwing out weapons concepts in the desperate hopes that somebody would bite on them. Things have settled down considerably, but the confusion of that period lingers. Hopefully matters will be clarified in the future.

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