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Kh-32

Air-launched cruise missile

Kh-32 cruise missile

Development of the Kh-32 missile began in the mid 1980s, so this weapon is rather dated

 
 
Country of origin Russia
Entered service ?
Missile
Missile length 11.65 m
Missile diameter 0.92 m
Wing span 3 m
Missile weight ~ 6 t
Warhead weight 0.5 t
Warhead type Conventional (500 kg HE-FRAG) or nuclear (blast yield of around 150 - 500 kT)
Range of fire 600 - 1 000 km

 

   The Kh-32 is a new Russian air-launched cruise missile. It is a significantly improved version of the previous Kh-22 with improved guidance, improved resistance to jamming, improved engine and longer range. The Kh-32 was specially designed to attack US carrier battle groups, as well as various ground targets. It will be carried by Russian Tu-22M3M medium-range bombers. Development of the Kh-32 began back in the mid 1980s. It was created by Raduga design bureau. Since the early 1990s development of this missile was stopped numerous times due to funding problems. Testing of the Kh-32 began in 1998. There were constant setbacks and delays. Trials of this missile were finally completed only in 2016. The Kh-32 was officially adopted during the same year. So this weapon is rather dated, as it took more than 30 years to develop this missile.

   Russian Air Force currently operates just over 60 Tu-22M3 bombers. Though serviceability rate of these bombers is around 50% or even lower. It is planned that within the next couple of years some of these bombers will be upgraded to the new Tu-22M3M standard in order to be compatible with the new Kh-32 missile.

   This long-range missile was originally designed to overcome the US Aegis and Patriot air defense systems, that emerged in the early 1980s and were the most sophisticated air defense systems in the world. The US Aegis is naval air defense system. Since the early 1980s it was  carried by Ticonderoga class cruisers. Since the early 1990s the Aegis air defense system was also installed on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, that were built in large numbers. Both Ticonderoga and Arleigh Burke class warships protected the US aircraft carriers from hostile missile attacks. The Patriot is a land-based air defense system, used by the US Army, which also emerged in the early 1980. Also at that time the US Air Force planned to upgrade its F-15 Eagle air superiority fighters and equip these with new AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles that would have longer range. Furthermore the US Navy planned to upgrade its F-14 Tomcat multi-role fighters, and equip them with new AIM-54C Phoenix long-range air-to-air missiles, that were optimized to shoot down high-altitude anti-ship missiles, such as the Kh-22. The Kh-22 had a range of 80-330 km. This was not sufficient for stand off use and endangered the Tu-22M series bombers that carried these missiles. So back in the mid 1980s Soviets needed a capable missile with longer range, that could overcome US air defenses.

   Even though the Kh-32 resembles its predecessor, it is a much capable missile. It is planned that the new Kh-32 will replace in service 3 variants of the Kh-22N missiles that are currently used by Tu-22M3 bombers. These include the baseline Kh-22N with conventional or nuclear warhead and radar guidance, the Kh-22NA anti-ship missile with nuclear warhead and inertial guidance, as well as Kh-22N anti-radiation missile with conventional or nuclear warhead and passive radar guidance. So it is planned that the Kh-32 will become the main weapon of the Tu-22M3 and further upgraded Tu-22M3M bombers.

   Even though the Kh-32 has identical dimensions as the Kh-22 it has longer range. Advancements in electronics and guidance systems allowed to reduce the size of internal components and increase the size of the fuel tank. Warhead weight was reduced from 1 000 kg to 500 kg. Furthermore the Kh-32 is fitted with a more fuel efficient engine. All of these improvements allowed to extend its range significantly.

   The Kh-32 has a range of 600-1 000 km, depending on the flight profile. Such range allows the bomber to approach its target and launch the missile at stand off range, without entering hostile air defense zone. The Kh-32 can reach top speed of over Mach 4 (4 939 km/h) in its terminal phase. It can outrun a number of interceptor missiles, such as SM-6.

   After launch this long-range missile was designed to climb to an altitude of 40 and reach stratosphere and then dive towards the target. Most radars can not detect and track targets that approach from the top. Alternatively this missile can perform a lighter dive from the stratosphere and approach the target flying at around 150-200 meters to the ground. At such extreme altitudes it can not be reached by hostile air defense missiles. The previous Kh-22 could climb only to 12 or 22.5 km.

   The Kh-32 has a conventional 500 kg warhead. Alternatively it is available with a nuclear warhead. This one is estimated to have a blast yield of around 150-500 kT. So even though warhead of this missile is much smaller than that of the previous Kh-22, the new Kh-32 should be much more accurate than its predecessor.

   A baseline version has an active radar guidance. Seeker head of this missile has been improved. Some sources suggest that there are versions of this missile with inertial guidance and passive radar guidance, just like on the Kh-22 variants.

 

 

Kh-32 cruise missile

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Kh-32 cruise missile

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Kh-32 cruise missile

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Kh-32 cruise missile

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Kh-32 cruise missile

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Kh-32 cruise missile

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Kh-32 cruise missile

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