The Russian Air Force will accept into service in 2013 the new Raduga Kh-101 cruise missile, capable of delivering precision strikes with a conventional warhead at long-distance, an Air Force source told Izvestia on Wednesday.
The new missile, currently being flight-tested, will be able to hit targets with an accuracy of just 30 feet (10 meters) at ranges of up to 6,000 miles (10,000 km), giving Long-Range Aviation its first precision-strike long-range weapon, the paper says.
The Russian Air Force’s bombers currently deploy the Kh-555 conventionally-armed cruise missile, which only has an accuracy of 75-90 feet (25-30 meters) accuracy.
The subsonic Kh-101 navigates primarily by using Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system, but also has a backup intertial guidance mechanism which can take over if its SATNAV is jammed. It will also be capable of hitting small moving targets like vehicles, the paper said.
The new missile delivers a bigger payload – 880 pounds (400 kg) than its Kh-555 predecessor (440 pounds), and over a much longer range. A nuclear-armed variant, Kh-102, will also enter service.
The long-range capability is essential as Russia no longer has bases abroad and therefore cannot provide distant fighter escort for its bomber fleet, Alexander Konovalov of the Strategic Evaluation Institute told the paper.
The large size of the weapon means it can only be carried by Russia’s biggest bombers, the Tupolev Tu-95MS and Tu-160, and not the Tu-22M3, which will continue in service with the Kh-555, the source told Izvestia.