Country of origin
Missile launch weight
1 210 kg
Nuclear, 50 kT
Range of fire
2 500 km
~ 80 m
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.
The Kh-55 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
000-12 000 meters.
The original 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.
This missile 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.
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
Kh-55OK version with
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 engine. 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 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces 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.
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 a 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.
Kh-102 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.
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
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
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.
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.