Double strike: Russian Kh-101 missiles received a double warhead
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Double strike: Russian Kh-101 missiles received a double warhead

Double strike: Russian Kh-101 missiles received a double warhead

British intelligence recently reported an interesting update to the arsenal of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS). It turns out that the Kh-101 missiles, which are one of the key elements of Russian strategic aviation, are now equipped with a second warhead. Such data was provided by analysts, citing official messages on social networks and other media.

Rocket modification goals

The main goal of this modification, according to experts, is to increase the survivability of missiles in conditions of intensive operation of Ukrainian air defense systems. Faced with an active interception, the Russian side appeared to be looking for ways to reduce the likelihood of the missiles being destroyed before reaching their target. In particular, this was made possible by reducing the range of the missiles, which, according to British intelligence, “probably halved their range.” Such a reduction, however, is not considered critical, since even the reduced radius is quite sufficient to achieve any goal within Ukraine, and probably even throughout Europe.

Design changes and tactical advantages

The addition of a second warhead entailed a number of changes to the missile's design. According to published data, the mass of the warhead has been increased to 800 kg. This allows the missile not only to increase its effectiveness in hitting fortified targets, but also to expand the range of targets. For example, the second warhead is designed to provide increased fragmentation damage, making the missile more effective against unfortified targets such as industrial areas or power plants.

However, this innovation also has a downside. Reducing the volume of the fuel system from 1250 to 800 kg led to a reduction in the missile’s range from 5,5 thousand km to 3,6 thousand km. This change in the fuel system allows the missile to maintain sufficient range to carry out missions in most enemy territories, including bypassing air defense radars located in low-altitude zones.

Strategic importance

Doubling the combat weight not only increases the missile's destructive power, but also allows for larger strikes against critical infrastructure and logistics hubs. Important targets may be railway junctions, bridges, as well as airfields where aircraft are based. As the conflict intensifies, such a strategy can significantly increase pressure on the enemy's defensive resources.

Protective measures

In addition, the updated Kh-101 missiles are equipped with systems for breaking through air defense/missile defense, including infrared trap units activated when approaching the target. This should increase the likelihood of the missile successfully reaching its target, despite modern air defense systems such as IRIS-T and Crotale-NG, especially in the difficult mountainous and elevated terrain of the western regions of Ukraine.

As a result, these changes in the design and tactics of using the Kh-101 missile reflect the Russian side’s desire to adapt to changes in combat conditions, increasing the chances of successfully completing combat missions even with enhanced enemy air defense.

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