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Ukraine air defense intercept state-of-the-art Russian Kh-32 missile produced in 2023

The Kh-32 is an upgraded version of the Kh-22, but with a range of 600-1000 km
Fragments of the intercepted Russian Kh-32 missile. Photo: Polkovnik Genshtaba
Ukraine air defense intercept state-of-the-art Russian Kh-32 missile produced in 2023

Ukraine’s air defense forces have shot down a Russian supersonic Kh-32 cruise missile that was manufactured in the third quarter of 2023, the Ukrainian military portal mil.in.ua reports.

This missile is likely the one that Ukraine intercepted in a historic first on 19 April, along with downing its first Russian bomber, the Tu-22M3, with a modified S-200 launcher.

Citing a post by the Telegram channel Polkovnik Genshtaba, mil.in.ua writes that the Kh-32 missile was hit by an anti-aircraft missile. Photos released show fragments of the missile with holes from striking elements in the right-wing console.

Kh-32 intercepted by Ukraine
Fragments of the intercepted Russian Kh-32 missile. Photo: Polkovnik Genshtaba

The Kh-32 is a deep modernization of the Kh-22 air-to-surface missile, with development starting in the late 1980s by the Raduga design bureau. Work on the missile was frozen several times due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, but resumed in the mid-1990s with tests conducted in 1998.

Further delays occurred due to lack of funds for upgrading the intended Tu-22M3 carrier aircraft. Testing resumed in 2008 using a modified Tu-22M3. Flight tests with the aircraft and missiles took place in late July 2013, with at least one launch, mil.in.ua writes.

Russia Kh-32 intercept Ukraine
Tu-22M3M with a Kh-32 missile. Photo from open sources

The Kh-32 officially entered service in late 2016, with plans to upgrade 30 Tu-22M3 aircraft to the Tu-22M3M version. The missile has an identical body to the Kh-22 but features a more powerful engine and increased fuel tanks by reducing the warhead size.

The deeply modernized missile also received a new jam-resistant radar-inertial guidance system with radio command correction and terrain contour matching. The Kh-32’s flight speed is 3.5-4.6 Mach, with a range of 600-1000 kilometers thanks to the increased fuel tanks.

Russia Kh-32 intercept Ukraine
Tu-22M3M with a Kh-32 missile. Photo from open sources
  • When commenting on the interception of two Kh-22 missiles on 19 April, UKraine’s Air Force Chief did not specify what allowed Ukraine to shoot them down. Previously, Ukraine couldn’t down them because of the high speed and quasi-ballistic trajectory of Kh-22.
  • While the weapon with which the Kh-23 was intercepted is unclear, Ukraine’s attack on the Tu-22M bomber was most likely carried out with a modified, Soviet-era S-200 air defense system. Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence said the bomber was hit at a range of some 300 kilometers, sustained damage, and crashed on its way back in a region neighboring North Ossetia.
  • In later remarks, Ukraine’s spy chief Kyrylo Budanov said that the operation to down the Tu-22M bomber included a week-long “ambush” where Ukrainian soldiers waited for the aircraft to reach the desired range.
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