Saturday, November 7, 2009

Russia's strategic nuclear forces development

Sabbatical reading. An interview of Commander of the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (SMF) Col. Gen. Michail Solovtsov, and an article about Russia's SMF development plans, published in English-language 'National Defense' issues.


  1. Igorr great stuff , one of the page(9th/last)mentions that development of kh-102 was completed in 2005 and production started in 2006 which does not seem to be true as Russia has not declared kh-102 is a new deployed cruise missile under START declaration.

    Can you do a write up on kh-555 and kh-102 if you have additional information ?

  2. Start-1 doesn't regulates a cruise missiles number but only the number of their flying carriers (long-range aircrafts). Kh-102 misiles were demonstrated on the pictures , placed in revolver external launch assembling . It's a Kh-55-size missile with a triangle shape for radar signature reducing, covered by red radio-absorbing color.

  3. That picture from Janes on a Tu-95MS with red color ( indicating a training round or test round and not radio absorbing color ) is the only indication of kh-101/102 project ( )

    But no pictures of operational deployment were ever shown, there is no concrete evidence to suggest kh-101/102 got operationally deployed.

  4. here is the Janes report which first shot the only pictures available for kh-101/102

    Jane's Defence Weekly - October 24, 2007

    Details emerge of Russia's latest cruise missiles

    Robert Hewson Jane's Air-Launched Weapons Editor

    Exclusive images of Russia's two most advanced long-range airborne weapons - the Kh-101 and Kh-555 conventionally armed cruise missiles - have recently been acquired by Jane's .

    Russia has been modernising its cruise missile inventory over the past few years and has recently increased the operational tempo of the strategic bomber fleet that would deploy such weapons.

    Developed by the Raduga Design Bureau (now part of the unified Tactical Missiles Corporation), the Kh-555 is a modified version of the original nuclear-tipped Kh-55 strategic stand-off weapon (AS-15 'Kent'). It is thought to have entered service in 2004, but details are scant. The Kh-101 is a stealth-optimised design, conceived as a Kh-55 replacement. No images of this missile have previously been shown in public.

    In the imagery acquired by Jane's , the Kh-101 is seen carried in pairs on four pylons under an upgraded Tu-95MS16 'Bear-H' (Tu-95MSM) bomber. The Tu-95MS16 variant can carry a theoretical load of 16 cruise missiles (Kh-55s): 10 on underwing pylons and six on its MKU-6-5 internal rotary launcher. This 'overload', which requires two pylons each to carry three missiles, proved to be impractical and is not used operationally. Typically, the combat load for a 'Bear' would be carried on the internal launcher only to maximise aircraft range.

    The Tu-95MS16 variant maintains the ability to carry underwing missiles as seen in the image (unlike the Tu-95MS6). The eight Kh-101 configuration may be the (maximum) standard load for this new weapon. The aircraft is adorned with photo calibration markings and so the red-painted missiles are likely to be a trial fit.

    The Kh-101 appears to be longer than the Kh-55/555 series (approximately 7 m in length) with a more slender and angular design. The missile has a chiselled nose section and a flat-sided triangular main body, all calculated to reduce radar cross-section. Three folding tail fins are mounted at the end of a tapered rear section. A pop-out wing is mounted under the missile, which is thought to be powered by an NPO Saturn TRDD-50 turbojet. The podded engine is housed inside the rear of the missile and drops down on a pylon when the missile is released from its launch aircraft.

    The operational status of the Kh-101 is still not clear, although it is obviously in an advanced test and development stage and is probably available for use. Russian sources note that flights with the missile and the Tu-95MSM have been ongoing for over a year.

    Photographs of the Kh-555 being loaded onto a Tu-95 are significant because this missile had previously been associated only with the Tu-160 'Blackjack' bomber. It was always probable that the Kh-555 would be integrated with the Tu-95 but doing so increases the operational flexibility of Russia's bomber force and provides the Tu-95 with a modern conventional weapon capability for the first time.

    Given the increased size of the Kh-101 (about 1 m longer than the Kh-55), it is unlikely that this missile can be carried on the standard MKU-6-5 internal launcher. It is possible that a conventionally armed Tu-95 could operate with a mix of external Kh-101s and internal Kh-555s.


    * The first pictures of the Kh-101 cruise missile to emerge in public show eight of the stealthy missiles loaded on an upgraded Tu-95MS bomber (Via Robert Hewson)
    * Russian ground crew load a Kh-555 into the internal weapons bay of a Tu-95MS. The missile’s conventional warhead section appears to be shorter than the nuclear Kh-55 (Via Robert Hewson)

  5. The red color at least isnt an indication about dummy, but vice versa - the indication about a working weapon. Look here for example, the launch of a red colored Kh-55 from Tu-160:
    Unrelated to color, Kh-102 is painted with radar-absorbing compound according to some strong rumors. It correlates with the intentionally low observability design of the missile. And BTW Kh-102 are in serial production, Gen Col Victor Yesin unambigousely says in this article that the production of the nuclear Kh-102 variant was started in 2006. I also remember an additional Russian top said some time ago about this for the press about a new 5000 km range missile entering service. However dont know how many were produced.

  6. Igor ... do you know status of Meteorit-A ...

  7. A Red round would indicate a dummy or training round.

    It is very surprising if kh-101 is operationally deployed there are no pictures or information from intelligence circle or US DOD.

    Which perhaps indicate they may still be testing this missile and not yet operationally deployed.

    This is one of the operational kh-555

  8. According to my info, Kh-101/102 is suppose to officially enter service in 2010


    Igor, you have a interesting and informative blog. Keep up the good work.

    It's appreciated.

  9. Hi Igor,
    any comment (article?) on 30new ballistic missiles in 2010 for Russian Army?
    Is that Bulava due to come out or that is only replacement of Topol's with SR 24?
    BTW is SR-24 just renamed MIRV-ed Topol-M?

  10. True, R-24 is a MIRVed Topol-M. The special designation is made to circumvent the agreement prohibiting ballistic missiles modernisation. So they have called it a new misile. No big secret in that. The 'new 30' in 2010 are Topol-M and R-24. Bulava yet finished its tests.

  11. Thanks for answer Igor!
    Any comment on Bulava "adventure"?
    Was that mistake as some claim? (To build first subs for Bulava withouth finishing testing missile) Does Bulava really have no altrnative as new generation missile or upgraded Sineva was better option from the beggening?
    Thanks in advance!

  12. Pr. 955 have no the piping needed for liquid-fuel missiles to be installed, so no alternative for Bulava in current situation. A liquid-fueled missiles cannot have the needed level of acceleration to overcome a prospective ABM system, a hydro-dynamic blow destroys them.

  13. no alternative to Bulava than,...
    thanks Igor!