журнал Take-Off, июль 2010

Development of a new generation of precision guided munitions is nearing completion

Late January 2010 saw the maiden flight of the Sukhoi PAK FA Future Tactical Aircraft. In one of his interviews, Boris Obnosov, Director General of the Tactical Missiles corporation, the key supplier of weapons for the fifth-generation fighter, said that the development of air-launched weapons for the aircraft were on schedule. The corporation is completing the development of 14 types of advanced missiles and smart bombs spanning virtually the whole spectrum of air-launched weapons. The emphasis has been placed on air-to-air and air-to-surface guided missiles.

New air-to-air missiles
The latest air-to-air missiles under development include short-, medium- and long-range ones and are being developed by the Vympel design bureau, a Tactical Missiles subsidiary.
The RW-MD short-range air-to-air missile is designed for use by fighters, attack aircraft and combat helicopters. The cutting-edge missile, fitted with an upgraded all-aspect two-mode heat-seeking head, features a 30% increase in the range over the R-73E dogfight missile it is designed to replace. The new weapon's enhanced powerplant and combined aero-gas-dynamic controls enable the RW-MD to use higher angles of attack than the R-73E can, with the former's target designation angles ranging ±60 degrees. It also can eliminate threats manoevring at as much as 12 g.
The highly lethal RW-SD medium-range missile is intended to deal with aerial threats, e.g. hostile fighters, attack aircraft, bombers, airlifters, helicopters and cruise missiles. Compared with the RW-AE missile, the RW-SD features a big increase in maximal range - up to 110 km. The RW-SD kills targets jinking at up to 12 g at any time of day and night, attacking them from any aspect in the face of electronic countermeasures (ECM) in the look-down mode, including the multiple-target launch-and-leave attack capability.

Table 1. Basic characteristics of general-purpose air-to-ground missiles




Missile launch weight, kg

up to 520


Warhead weight, kg

up to 250


Range, km
- from H=50 m
- from H=5,000 m



Launch altitude bracket, m



Guidance system

inertial + semi-active laser beam-riding

semi-active laser beam-riding

Air-to-ground missiles
The design of the latest AG Ms is heavily modularised. The approach has been embodied in the advanced Kh-38ME multi-purpose missile able to mount a number of combined guidance packages, including the inertial guidance system and terminal precision-guidance package variants wrapped around laser, thermal-imaging and radar or satnav homing heads. The missile can pack a formidable blast/ fragmentation or penetrator warhead, with a cluster-type warhead being an option. The dual-pulse solid-fuel rocket motor develops a velocity exceeding the sonic speed by more than twice.
Table 1 offers a comparison of the basic characteristics of the Kh-38ME and the widely-known previous-generation Kh-25M AGM (the data pertaining to the Kh-38MLE and Kh-25ML laser beam-riding missiles). According to the table, the Kh-38MLE is virtually four times more effective than the Kh-25ML in terms of maximum range and warhead weight..
The Kh-59MK2 air-to-ground missile has been developed to deal with a wide spectrum of stationary ground targets. It is effective against targets with the known grids, including the targets lacking the radar, IR and optical signatures. The missile is a fire-and-forget weapon using the autonomous recognition of the terrain adjacent to the target. The Kh-59MK2's enhanced range accounts for 285 km and its formidable penetrator or cluster-type warhead has been increased up to 320 kg and 283 kg respectively.
The Ovod-ME multi-purpose missile system wrapped around the Kh-59M2E guided missile eliminates surface targets identified visually by the weapon systems officer on the multifunctional display. The Kh-59M2E missile-based Ovod-ME system has the round-the-clock capability, including the ability to kill targets in low visibility.
Multirole PGMs also include guided bombs. The offer to foreign customers includes a whole series of smart bombs furnished with satellite navigation and laser beam-riding capabilities.

Table 2. Basic characteristics of high-velocity antiship and antiradiation missiles of the Kh-31 family







Launch weight, kg






Warhead weight, kg






Maximum range from H=15,000 m, M=1.5, km




up to 110

 up 110

Missile maximum (average) velocity, m/s


1,000 (600-700)


1,000 (720-750)

1,000 (600-700)

Guidance system

inertial + active radar homing

autopilot + active radar homing

inertial + wideband passive radar homing

interchangeable passive radar homers

interchangeable passive radar homers

Antiradiation and antiship missiles
More advanced antiradiation and antiship missiles, Kh-31PD and Kh-31AD respectively, are being derived from the high-velocity Kh-31P/A missiles fitted with a combined powerplant of a ramjet sustainer and a solid-fuel booster motor. The advanced missiles of the type are far superior to the similar-purpose missiles of the previous generation in terms of performance. See Table 2 for the comparison of the characteristics of the export versions of the Kh-31-family weapons.
The new-generation Kh-31 PD/AD missiles are equipped with more accurate cutting-edge guidance systems and feature a two-plus times increase in range and a warhead lethality hike of at least 15—20% over the previous models.
The evolution of subsonic sea-skimming anti-ship missiles has embodied in the Kh-35UE missile featuring considerable aerodynamics and powerplant improvements and more capable guidance and control systems compared with the previous-generation Kh-35E antiship missile. Refer to Table 3 for a comparison of the characteristics of the advanced Kh-35UE anti-ship missile and its predecessor Kh-35E.
The new missile features a twofold increase in the maximum range. Its combined guidance system reliant on the inertial-guidance satnav active/passive radar homing capabilities allows the Kh-35UE a higher degree of precision and countermeasures immunity and a wider spectrum of targets it can take out, including those it can kill in the face of ECM. The target acquisition range of the advanced missile has more than doubled, with the Kh-35UE having the same dimensions the Kh-35E has, which makes them interchangeable.
Developing and producing the new generation of PGMs calls for a design and technology level drastically different to that inherited from the previous century The Tactical Missiles corporation is running a purposeful gradual upgrade of its technological capabilities to this end. At present, the corporation is running 17 programmes on updating and reconstructing its production capabilities. This enabled it to launch a series of development efforts on sophisticated PGMs. Special attention is being paid to refining the ground test facilities to enable them to ensure a high degree of sophistication of development work, thus slashing the number of flight tests. The work is currently right on schedule.

Table 3. Basic characteristics of subsonic antiship missiles of the Kh-35 family




Launch weight, kg - plane-launched missile - helicopter-launched missile 



Warhead weight, kg



Range bracket, km



Sea-skimming altitude, m:
-cruising leg
-terminal leg



Velocity (Mach)



Max post-launch horizontal turn angle, deg.



Guidance system

 inertial + satnav + active/passive radar homing

inertial + active radar homing

Homing head's maximum target acquisition and lock-on range, km