Russian Izdeliye 111 missile was caught throwing decoy missiles

There’s a substantial possibility that a countermeasures system could be incorporated into the Russian Kh-101 missile, also identified as Izdeliye 111. Let’s delve into this possibility. 

A missile, reportedly of Russian origin and likely a Kh-101 [Izdeliye 111], was recently captured in mid-flight over Ukraine. This particular missile serves as the modern, stealth version of the earlier Soviet air-launched missile, the Kh-55SM, which was predominantly launched from the Tu-95 bomber. 

As of now, the legitimacy of the video capturing the missile in flight is yet to be certified. The video was allegedly shot during the barrage of missile attacks on Ukrainian targets by Russian warcraft on December 28 and 29. Intriguingly, during its flight, the Izdeliye 111 missile is seen discharging smaller rockets. 

Kh-101 and Kh-102 cruise missiles
Photo credit: Reddit

Specialists surmise that these secondary missiles serve a unique purpose – they act as countermeasures. That is, their deployment is engineered to mislead Ukrainian air defenses, aiding the Izdeliye 111 in accomplishing its assigned target. 

Control mechanisms

Confirmation of these as countermeasures sparks intriguing inquiries about their control mechanisms. Specifically, how and when does the missile ascertain the need to launch the countermeasures to trick the adversary’s interceptor? Although most experts conjecture it could be an integrated radar warning receiver or analogous sensor at play, there’s no definitive photographic evidence to back this theory in the case of the Izdeliye 111.

Consider another possibility: the missile could have been pre-programmed to discharge chaff or flare at specific time intervals or points. In other words, the video could have captured a moment when the missile was “unleashed” from the payload, irrespective of its proximity to the target or whether an enemy interceptor had intercepted it. 

Details regarding this Russian missile’s capabilities remain scanty. Its encounters with Ukrainian Air Defense, which has shot it down numerous times since the Ukraine war began, still leave many questions unanswered, particularly concerning its capabilities. Take, for instance, as of the early part of 2023, the Izdeliye 111 is reported to be equipped with radio frequency countermeasures, also known as chaffs. 

This realization came to light after an incident where the Ukrainian air defense system disrupted the missile’s flight and forced it to plummet to the ground. Photos of the missile wreckage clearly displayed countermeasure dispensers. 

Izdeliye 111 or Kh-101/Kh-102

The Kh-101/102, a recent development of the Kh-55, has a low radar cross-section of approximately 0.01 square meters. The Kh-101/102 was specially designed for air launch, forgoing the Kh-55’s circular fuselage cross-section for a nose and forward fuselage section that is designed aerodynamically to generate lift. 

This missile is sizeable, with a length of 7.45 m [24.4 ft] and a launch weight ranging between 2,200 and 2,400 kg [4,900–5,300 lb]. It comes equipped with a 400 kg [880 lb] high-explosive, penetrating, or cluster warhead or a 250 kt nuclear warhead for the Kh-102. 

Russian Izdeliye 111 missile was caught throwing decoy missiles - Kh-101 missile
Photo credit: Twitter

The missile’s propulsion is supplied by a TRDD-50A turbojet that produces 450 kgf of thrust. This allows it to maintain cruising speeds of 700–720 km/h [Mach 0.57 – Mach 0.59] and to reach maximum speeds of 970 km/h [Mach 0.79] while flying at altitudes between 30 and 70 m above ground level. The missile can successfully strike static targets by way of a pre-downloaded digital map for terrain following and GLONASS/INS for trajectory correction, up to an accuracy of 6–10 meters. 

The missile is reportedly capable of striking minor mobile targets like vehicles, using a terminal electro-optical sensor or an imaging infrared system. The missile’s estimated range varies from 2,000 km [1,200 mi] to 4,500–5,500 km [2,800–3,400 mi] and it has a flight endurance of approximately 10 hours. Since late 2018, these missiles have been recognized for having an onboard EW defense system.

Tu-95MS bomber

The Tu-95MS can accommodate eight of these weapons on four under-wing pylons while the Tu-160 can be fitted with two drum launchers each loaded with six missiles. However, the smaller Tu-22M3 will continue operating the Kh-55, although it is also compatible with the Kh-101/Kh-102. The missiles’ long range is vital due to Russia’s limited number of overseas bases and lack of capacity to provide distant fighter support. 

The missile’s first tests were conducted in 1995 and it was officially accepted into service in 2012. The estimated cost of the Kh-101 missile is roughly US$13 million. 

Previously, we reported that the Ukrainian air defense faced challenges intercepting certain Russian cruise missiles. The Kh-101 has not posed a significant problem, unlike the Kh-22, which has been a considerable nightmare for Ukrainian interceptors. 

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