Some of the Kh-101 cruise missiles Russia used to attack important Ukrainian infrastructure in late October were recently manufactured, months after Western sanctions were imposed on them to restrict Moscow from possessing chips for high-tech weapons.
Experts have examined the remains of Kh-101 cruise missiles found in the capital Kiev after November 23, 2022, the Russian attack on Ukraine’s electricity and water systems.
One of these missiles was manufactured this summer and another was completed after September based on markings on these weapons, a report by a team of investigators said December 5. 2022.
Russia’s continued production of advanced guided missiles such as the Kh-101 suggests that it has found a way to obtain chips and other necessary materials despite Western sanctions, or that Moscow has accumulated the required stock of raw materials.
The findings are part of a recent report by the Arms of Conflict Research Group, an independent UK-based organization tasked with identifying and tracking weapons and ammunition used in combat paint.
A small group of researchers from this organization arrived in Kiev shortly before the attacks at the invitation of the Ukrainian security services.
During four research trips to Kiev, investigators found that nearly all of Russia’s advanced military equipment is made with semiconductors from the West.
However, they could not determine whether the remains of the Kh-101 they studied were from missiles that hit their targets and exploded, or if it was intercepted in flight and shot down.
Kh-101 missiles are marked with a 13-digit sequence. Investigators say the first three digits represent the missile factory,
The next 3 digits indicate which of the 2 versions of the Kh-101 and another 2 digits indicate the time it was manufactured. The last 5 digits are said to be the serial number and production batch of the rocket.
Piotr Butowski, a Polish journalist who specializes in Russian warplanes and military weapons, also said the team’s analysis coincided with his own.
The first 3 digits are always 315 – that’s the production site number. Kh-101 missiles are developed and manufactured by the Raduga company in Dubna near Moscow.
In an interview before the report was published, a US defense intelligence analysis confirmed that Butowski’s analysis was consistent with their information.
According to Pentagon officials, Russia has launched thousands of long-range weapons such as cruise missiles and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles against targets in Ukraine since the conflict broke out.
Whether Russia will run out of old cruise missiles remains unclear. However, some observers say that the military often uses older types of ammunition than before, because they make up the majority of the national arsenal.
On November 23, the same day Russia launched a cruise missile attack on Kiev, US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin told reporters that Russia’s supply of precision-guided weapons had “reduced significantly” tell”.
Mr. Lloyd J. Austin thinks it will be more difficult for Moscow to quickly produce them “due to the restrictions they face on microchips and other materials”.
However, Damien Spleeters, who leads the investigation of the Arms of Conflict Research organization, can hardly confirm whether Russia is running out of weapons.
It is known that the Kh-101 missile was developed in the 1990s, but Russia has only perfected this weapon in the past few years.
The missile has a missile length of 7.54 m and a diameter of 0.51 m. The launch weight of the Kh-101 is up to 2.3 tons.
Each Tu-95MS is capable of carrying up to six externally mounted Kh-101 missiles.
While the Tu-160s equipped them with revolvers containing 6 missiles inside.
According to the manufacturer, the target error of Kh-101 is only about 5 – 10 m. An excellent parameter for a missile with a range of thousands of kilometers.
A special feature is that Kh-101 is equipped with propeller-driven turbofan engines with propellers made of low-reflective radar materials.
Kh-101 has a “brother” Kh-102 with identical appearance and system equipment, the difference between them is the warhead.
Kh-101 carries a normal warhead weighing 450 kg with powerful explosives.
While the Kh-102 is equipped with a nuclear warhead with an explosive yield of up to 250 kT.
The atomic bomb dropped by the US on the Japanese city of Hiroshima had an explosive equivalent of 13kt. Thus, the destructive power of Kh-102 is more than 19 times that of this atomic bomb.
With such tremendous destructive power, the Kh-102 cruise missile can blow up a large enemy city.
Currently, both Kh-101 and Kh-102 missiles have a speed of up to Mach 0.9. With a terrain-tracking cruise missile, this is considered a fairly high speed.
The missile can fly extremely low, from 30 – 70 m, which makes it difficult to intercept.
With a range of 4,000 to 6,000 km, this is considered the longest-flying cruise missile in the world today, surpassing all products of the same type in the world.
The latest version of the Tomahawk cruise missile also has a range equal to that of the Kalibr, which is about 2,500 km. Thus, the range of Kh-101/102 is 2.5 times higher.
With such a long-range, Russian aircraft can launch Kh-01/102 missiles from a safe distance without worrying about enemy air defense systems.
Although there are many advantages, the cost is the weakness of Russian cruise missiles in general, Russian products are often more expensive than similar American products.
At the same time, they possess some Western electronic components. When the chip supply is closed, Russia, without prior preparation, will hardly be able to produce this type of missile in large quantities.
Currently, the unit price of a Kh-101 missile is up to 13 million USD.