Espreso. Global

Ukrainian missiles for 750-1,000 km: how long does it take to start mass production?

13 October, 2023 Friday

Ukraine should have not just single samples of long-range missiles, but their mass production at a significant pace

Defense Express writes about it.

Ukraine has "worked out experimental samples" of missile weapons ranging from 750 to 1000 kilometers. And now we're talking about mass-producing these long-range weapons.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the President's Office, said this on Channel 24, adding that it is planned to attract investment and foreign weapons manufacturers. The existence of work on a missile with a range of even more than 1,000 kilometers was also reported by former Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Tu-141 Strizh

It could start with a Tu-141 Strizh reconnaissance drone converted into an ersatz cruise missile. It was already used in December last year, and successfully, against the Russian air bases Engels and Dyagilevo. The Russian Federation has officially recognized that three Tu-22M3s were hit at Dyagilevo as a result of the Stryzh strike.

The potentially converted Tu-141 Strizh can have a range of up to 1,000 km and carry, as Russia has also reported on the basis of drone wreckage, an OFAB-100-120 bomb, which is installed in it instead of reconnaissance equipment in the middle of the body.

"And despite the fact that we are talking about the conversion of existing UAVs, if you look closely at the Tu-141 Strizh, you can see a ready-made ground-launched cruise missile. This drone was designed for low-altitude flight at high speeds along a programmed route, and the only question is whether it should return with intelligence or crash into a target with a warhead," Defense Express wrote. 

Moreover, the production of the Tu-141 Strizh in Soviet times took place at the Kharkiv Aviation Plant. That is, all the design and production documentation for the original drone is available. Of course, this is well known in Moscow, because its production continued in Kharkiv until 1989.

That is, the resumption of production of the Tu-141 Strizh as a full-fledged cruise missile is more realistic than creating a completely new development.

"But despite the availability of documentation, there is a rather significant problem: Kharkiv Aviation Plant is the most problematic aviation enterprise in Ukraine, which has been methodically destroyed for three decades and driven to bankruptcy. As a result, even during the ATO, they tried to restore at least some production by producing tractors for armored vehicles."

5V28 from S-200

The second model may well be the 5V28 convertible anti-aircraft missile for the S-200 system. Its use has already been recorded, for example, in Taganrog. Although the Russian Federation estimated its range at 600 km, it is quite possible that this parameter is 150 km longer.

"Documentation for this missile may also be available in Ukraine because the components of the S-200 were also produced at the Bolshevik plant in Kyiv, which physically ceased to exist in the 2000s and legally in 2021, as well as at the Tochmash plant in Donetsk. The former produced the launcher, the latter the charger," the company writes. 

There are no details on the conversion of the 5B28 into a surface-to-surface missile, although it is a more than difficult job to convert an archaic liquid-fuel missile with a 220 kg warhead into a quasi-ballistic missile for ground strikes.

Mass production

It is critical to understand that just because you have the original paperwork for a 1970s product does not mean you can immediately rivet items to it. The first question that comes to mind is where to obtain a complete set of the 1970s model. Even on this basis, we are not talking about "one-to-one" reproductions of missiles, but rather advancements based on them.

There are huge gaps in time and money between having a concept, a prototype in metal, a prototype that has been tested, small-scale production, and full-scale mass production.

If Ukraine is now at the stage of prototypes that are ready for mass production, there are still two large-scale tasks ahead. In peacetime, starting small-scale production of weapons such as missiles takes several years. The transition to large-scale production will take another couple of years. And this is in the absence of global problems.

"Is it possible to speed it up - yes, but it really should be a strategic state project that can be accelerated by obtaining ready-made main components made to order at foreign sites. And this is what the government is obviously betting on," Defense Express emphasizes.

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