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Russia begins production of Kh-101 cruise missiles with two warheads, doubling their danger — Defense Express

The analysis of the downed wreckage of the missile showed the mass of its explosive charge increased from 400 to 800 kg.
Russian strategic bomber TU-95 carrying Kh-101 missiles. Source: Defense Express
Russia begins production of Kh-101 cruise missiles with two warheads, doubling their danger — Defense Express

The modernization became possible by decreasing the fuel tank size, which shortened the missile range from 5,500 to nearly 2,250 kilometers, the Defense Express wrote.

It was initially reported in January 2024 during a propaganda visit by the head of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, to the “Raduga” missile design bureau responsible for producing these cruise missiles.

The new warhead’s weight is twice that of the previous 400 kg. However, rather than simply increasing the weight of a single warhead, the Russians have opted for a more insidious solution by incorporating two separate warheads. The Telegram channel “Polkovnyk HSH” revealed this information, providing photos of the warheads and noting that this discovery was made after analyzing a downed Kh-101 missile during the enemy’s latest attack on the night of 29 March 2024.

It was also mentioned that the second warhead contains ready-made damaging elements of cubic shape, which are typically used in anti-aircraft missiles but can have a significant damaging effect on personnel when used in ground attacks.

The installation of an additional warhead alongside the conventional high-explosive fragmentation warhead was made possible by reducing the size of the fuel tank. While this decreases the Kh-101 range from 5,500 km to a hypothetical 2,250 km, it is not significant for Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Even when launched from the Saratov region against targets in the west-Ukrainian Lviv region, such a missile would still have 500-700 km additional maneuvering capability. 

The idea of equipping the Kh-101 with two warheads can be traced back to Russian sources in the mid-2010s, during the development and testing stages of this missile. At that time, it was indicated that the 400 kg warhead could be divided into two in one of the missile’s configurations. At the same time, the specific release mechanism used in the new version of the X-101 remains uncertain.

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