Country of origin
Missile launch weight
1 210 kg
Nuclear, 50 kT
Range of fire
2 500 km
~ 80 m
The Kh-55 is
an air-launched cruise missile. It was developed in Soviet Union.
Development commenced in 1971. It was a Soviet response to a US
AGM-86 ALCM air-launched cruise missile. Initial production commenced in 1981.
This cruise missile was officially adopted in 1983. Its Western reporting name
is AS-15 Kent. Externally the Kh-55 is very similar to the RK-55
land-based cruise missile. In fact, Western intelligence and news
sources had mistakenly assumed for some time that the Kh-55 was
directly derived from the RK-55. However the Kh-55 was actually patterned
after a US
BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile. Sometimes it is even nicknamed
the 'Tomahaw-ski'. Even though it is an air-launched missile, rather
than a surface/sub- launched weapon it is similar to the Tomahawk in
many respects. After the collapse of the Soviet Union these missiles
were taken over by Russian. However a total of 1
612 missiles were left in Ukraine. In the late 1990s a number of
these missiles were transferred to Russia. Ukraine also secretly
sold some of these missiles to China and Iran, where indigenous
versions of the Kh-55 were developed. Currently Russian Air Force is the only operator of
the Kh-55. Russians also developed several variants of this missile.
cruise missile is used as a long-range standoff weapon. It is
carried and launched by bomber aircraft. The Kh-55 and its versions
are carried by a
Tu-160 long-range strategic bomber (12 missiles),
Tu-95 strategic bomber (6 or 16 missiles, depending on the
version), and even
Su-34 interdictor (1 missile). The Kh-55 was also tested on a
Tu-22M medium-range bomber, however it is not normally carried
by this aircraft.
The Kh-55 has a drop-down
turbojet engine. During flight the engine drops below the missile.
Also there are pop-out wings for cruising efficiency. The Kh-55 can be launched at altitudes ranging from 20 meters
out to 10 000-12
Kh-55 had a nuclear warhead with a blast yield of 50 kT. Some
sources suggest that the warhead has a blast yield of 200 kT. Though it
seems that this original missile is no longer used by the Russian
Air Force. After the Cold War some conventionally-armed versions of
this cruise missile emerged.
has inertial guidance system with Doppler radar/terrain map updates.
It uses radar and images stored in the memory of and onboard
computer to find its target. The original Kh-55 might not be particularly accurate however its
nuclear warhead compensates for accuracy.
(Western reporting name AS-15 Kent-A) is a baseline version, adopted
in 1983. It had a range of 2 500 km and carried a 200 kT nuclear
warhead. It seems that this original missile is no longer used by the Russian
version with optical guidance.
(AS-15 Kent-B) is an improved extended-range version. It was
developed a few years after the original Kh-55 entered service. This
missile was adopted in 1987. This missile was fitted
with additional conformal fuel
tanks for a longer range of 3 000 km. Also it has a more powerful
The Kh-55SM has a launch weight of 1 500 kg.
This missile has a nuclear warhead. The Kh-55SM is currently used by the Russian Air Force.
Kh-65SE is a
version of the KH-55SM with conventional warhead and a range of 600
km. This missile had a weight of 1 650 kg and had a 410 kg warhead.
Its range was deliberately limited to 600 km due to the INF Treaty.
This missile had a fixed external turbojet engine, rather than a
drop-down engine. A mock-up of this missile was demonstrated in
1993. This missile was not adopted.
is a stealthy cruise missile, developed in the late 1980s to replace
the Kh-55. It made its first flight in 1998. Evaluation trials
started in 2000. First pictures of this missile appeared in 2007. This missile was adopted
and is currently used by the Russian Air Force. It is carried by
modernizes Tu-160M and Tu-95MSM bombers. It is larger and heavier than the Kh-55, but retains a
similar design with drop-down engine. The Kh-101 is armed with
conventional warhead and has a range of 3 000 km. The missile weights 2 400 kg and carries
400-450 kg warhead. This missile is equipped with an electro-optical
system for correcting the flight trajectory and with a TV guidance
system for terminal guidance. The Kh-101 is
estimated to be accurate within 10-20 m CEP. Such accuracy is
sufficient to hit infrastructure targets. The missile is re-targetable
so it can be used to engage moving targets. It has a variable flight
profile and travels at altitudes ranging from 30-70 meters to 6 000
meters. This missile has reduced radar cross-section and is more
stealthier than the Kh-55SM.
is similar to the Kh-101 stealthy cruise missile, but carries a
thermonuclear warhead. It has a range of 4 500 km. This missile is
also used by the Russian Air Force alongside the Kh-101.
Kh-SD was a
missile with a 410 kg conventional warhead and a range of just 300
km. It was designed specially for export. It was a shorter-range
version of the Kh-101. The range was deliberately
reduced in order to comply with Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
guidelines. This version was announced in 1995. Eventually in 1999
its range was reportedly increased to 600 km. This missile shared
components with the Kh-101. The Kh-SD had a Terrain Contour Matching
(TERCOM) system with infrared homing on terminal guidance. The
TERCOM is considerable more accurate than inertial navigation
system. An anti-ship version of this missile was proposed with an
active radar homing seeker. The Kh-SD received no production orders
from export customers and was not adopted by the Russian Air Force.
The project was shelved in 2001.
(AS-15 Kent-C) is a conventionally armed version of the Kh-55SM with improved guidance
systems and increased range. Its nuclear warhead was replaced by a
400 kg conventional warhead. Some types of warheads are available,
including high explosive, penetration high explosive, or submunitions warhead. This missile has larger conformal fuel tanks
and a range of 3 500 km. Also due to the new guidance systems it has
increased accuracy. Furthermore this missile has reduced radar
cross-section and is more stealthier. This air-launched cruise
missile was tested in 1999 and was eventually approved for
production. It was adopted by the Russian Air Force in 2004.
Kh-BD is a
future cruise missile with a range of 3 000 km, or greater. In 2017
this missile was at the project stage. It is planned with
conventional and nuclear warheads. It should be carried by
modernized Tu-160M2 bombers.
Soumar is an
unlicensed Iranian copy of the Kh-55.
Unlike the original Kh-55, the Soumar is ground-launched. In 2001
Ukraine sold twelve Kh-55 missiles without nuclear warheads to Iran.
Existence of the Soumar missile was revealed in 2015.
Meshkat is a more recent Iranian missile based on the
Kh-55, which is believed to have increased range over the Soumar.
CJ-10 is a
Chinese land attack cruise missile, which is believed to be based on
the Kh-55 technology. In 1995 production unit of the Kh-55 missiles
was delivered to Shanghai and appears to have been used to produce
similar cruise missiles in China. Other sources suggest that in 2000
Ukraine exported six Kh-55SM missiles to China.