Russian Kh-59 missiles strike Ukraine: lethality and why it is difficult to intercept them
Exploring the Kh-59 missiles used in the recent Russian attack on Ukraine and the difficulties in countering them
Defense Express writes about it.
In a recent development, the Russian Air Force employed five Kh-59 cruise missiles in an overnight attack on Ukraine, with Ukraine successfully intercepting two. This incident holds significance due to a unique combination of missile strikes and the Shahed drones, a rare instance where multiple Kh-59 missiles were used simultaneously.
The Kh-59, designed for tactical aviation, can be launched from aircraft such as the Su-24M, Su-30, Su-34, Su-35, and Su-57. There are three main variants: the Kh-59, Kh-59M, and Kh-59MK2 (with two sub-variants), offering ranges of 45 km, up to 110 km, and up to 285 km, respectively. The Kh-59MK2, likely used in the recent attacks, boasts an extended range and improved all-weather capabilities compared to its predecessors.
Key specifications for the Kh-59MK2 include a compact 4.2-meter fuselage, a 2.45-meter wingspan, a 770 kg take-off weight, and a 310 kg warhead, available in penetrating or cassette configurations. This missile employs the TRDD-50B engine, a variant of the engine used in long-range cruise missiles like the Kh-101 and 3M-14 Kalibr.
The Russian forces have employed Kh-59 missiles to target Ukraine's civilian infrastructure since the early stages of the full-scale invasion. These missiles present a challenging task for air defense due to their compact size, making successful interceptions noteworthy achievements for Ukrainian air defense units.
- Notably, on October 1, 2023, an attack was executed on the Smolensk Aviation Plant, a key contributor to the production of Kh-59-type aviation missiles within the Russian military-industrial complex.