TechRussia enhances Kh-101 missile with dual warheads, cuts range

Russia enhances Kh‑101 missile with dual warheads, cuts range

Tu-95MSM with Ch-101 missiles under the wings; illustrative photo
Tu-95MSM with Ch-101 missiles under the wings; illustrative photo
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons | Dmitrij Terekhov
12:46 PM EDT, April 1, 2024

The Russian Federation announced in January 2024 its initiative to modernize one of the most recent additions to its arsenal, the Kh-101 missile. This effort came to light when Ukrainian forces discovered a modified version of the missile, offering them a first glimpse into Russia's enhancements.

A report by Defense Express, which analyzed the missile found in Ukraine, highlighted the significant upgrade: "The Russians have once again upgraded the Kh-101 cruise missile." The core of this modification lies in developing a new version of the Kh-101 missile, now featuring a warhead with double the mass of its predecessor.

Defense Express highlighted a pertinent detail in the missile's design alteration. The increase in the missile's mass did not result solely from enlarging a single warhead. Instead, the upgrade involves the integration of two separate warheads, culminating in a combined mass of 1764 pounds, a significant leap from the previous 882 pounds.

Upgraded Kh-101 Missile

The modernization project has notably boosted the Kh-101 missile's offensive potential. An essential aspect of this update is that the Russians didn't merely double the missile's warhead but also altered the characteristics of the second one. According to Defense Express, this second warhead is enhanced with penetrating elements shaped like cubes.

These cubic elements mimic those used in anti-aircraft missiles and are designated to augment area destruction. This led to heightened damage to armored vehicles and infrastructure targeted by the revamped Kh-101. More critically, it escalates the lethality of personnel within the missile's impact zone.

Modernized missile Kh-101
Modernized missile Kh-101© Defense Express

However, enhancing the Kh-101's offensive capabilities has not been matched with an increased range. Indeed, while the weapon's upgraded offensive potential is undeniable, the modification has halved its range. Initially, the Kh-101's reach was estimated to be about 2800 miles, with some sources claiming up to 3417 miles. The modernization has reduced this figure to just 1398 miles.

Despite this considerable limitation, Defense Express notes it does not significantly impact operations in Ukraine. For instance, if launched from the Saratov region, the upgraded Kh-101 would still possess a considerable operational range to carry out maneuvers in the air before reaching a target over Lviv.
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