Ukraine Air Force spokesperson recently disclosed that the country’s air defense units were unable to shot down any of the Kh-22 supersonic cruise missiles launched by Russia.
About KH-22 Missile
- It is a Soviet-era long-range airborne supersonic cruise missile.
- Armed with a nuclear or highly explosive fragmenting cumulative warhead, it was initially designed to destroy aircraft carriers and other large warships, or even groups of such carriers.
- The Kh-22 family was developed in the USSR in the 1960s and specifically designed to be launched from Tupolev-22 bombers.
- Later, both the missiles and the aircraft were modernized as part of the so-called "Kh-22 special air-to-surface missile complex."
- Upgraded in the 1970s, the missile had an impressive speed of 4,000 kilometers per hour, a 1,000-kilogram warhead, and a range of 500 kilometers.
- It weighs 5,820 kilograms.
- A total of approximately 3,000 such missiles were produced in the USSR.
- After the USSR collapsed, quite a few of them remained in Ukraine. However, soon after independence in 1991, Ukraine gave up its nuclear and strategic aviation arsenal.
- In 2000, Ukraine transferred 386 Kh-22 missiles to Russia as an installment against the gas debt.
- The successor to the Kh-22 became the Kh-32, which can be carried by the new Russian Tu-22M3M bombers. The new missile features a conventional warhead, an improved rocket motor, and a new radar imaging terminal seeker. It has a longer range but a smaller warhead.
Q1) What is a Cruise Missile?
Cruise missiles are unmanned vehicles that are propelled by jet engines, much like an airplane. They can be launched from ground, air, or sea platforms. Cruise missiles remain within the atmosphere for the duration of their flight and can fly as low as a few meters off the ground. Flying low to the surface of the earth expends more fuel but makes a cruise missile very difficult to detect.