Air Weapons: June 12, 2002


Russia is reorganizing its cruise missile inventory, seeking to move from a nuclear to a precision-conventional force. The current Kh-55 nuclear cruise missiles have warheads with a limited shelf life, and are to be rebuilt as Kh-555s with conventional warheads and electro-optical terminal guidance. The Russians recently received six hundred Kh-55s returned by Ukraine and will use those airframes to start Kh-555 production. The Russians want to move to an entirely new missile, the stealthy Kh-101 (and its nuclear-armed half-brother, the Kh-102), but this missile is expensive, and has been repeatedly delayed by problems with the power plant. The Russians might (and probably should) drop it in favor of the Kh-555 and tactical aircraft.--Stephen V Cole




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