F-22A Raptor, FB-22, F-22E, F-22N and Variants Index Page [Click for more ...] People's Liberation Army Air Power Index Page  [Click for more ...]
Military Ethics, Culture, Education and Training Index Page [Click for more ...]
Russian / Soviet Weapon Systems Index Page [Click for more ...]

Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

 Precision Guided Munitions in the Region

Technical Report APA-TR-2007-0109

by Dr Carlo Kopp, AFAIAA, SMIEEE, PEng
January, 2007
Revised June 2008
Revised July 2009
Revised August 2009

Text © 2004 - 2012 Carlo Kopp
Line Artwork © 2007 Carlo Kopp

Kh-31P Krypton ASM/ARM and Kh-29 Kedge ASM, KAB-1500Kr EOGB.


The arrival of large numbers of Russian designed Sukhoi fighters in the Asia-Pacific has attracted the attention of analysts and media alike. Less visible but no less important is the recent proliferation across the region of Russian and indigenous Precision Guided Munitions (PGM). In many respects the Sukhois are both a delivery vehicle and marketing vehicle for Russian cruise missiles, standoff missiles and guided bombs. With Russian and indigenous PGMs now finding their way on to all manner of regional delivery platforms, the Asia-Pacific is likely over the next decade to end up with a larger aggregate warstock of modern PGMs than that held by the EU NATO nations.

What is no less important is that many Russian PGM sales involve technology transfer via licence assembly or mass production, which given historical precedents could see many of these munitions in regional production runs lasting decades. Once established in production regional manufacturers will follow the well established pattern of tweaking the designs, spawning in turn a wide range of derivative weapons with various design improvements. China's evolution of the Russian P-15/P-21 Styx/Silkworm and 9K32/HN-5 Grail present excellent case studies. Electronic and optical countermeasures to these evolved and evolving weapons will present a problem in its own right.

The emergence of large warstocks of modern PGMs in this region will fundamentally change the strategic balance across the region as the decisive advantage held by US aligned regional nations with existing PGM warstocks will be narrowed if not eliminated in time. Major regional players like India and the PRC observed the Desert Storm, Desert Fox, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom campaigns very carefully and the lesson they carried away is much the same as articulated by our AVM Peter Criss during the 1990s - PGMs win wars. Lesser regional players in turn emulate these major players. Asia today sees military power primarily in terms of modern air and missile power, and budgets permitting we are seeing a pattern of investment directly copied from that followed by the US - air forces get what they want ahead of naval surface fleets and land armies.

The commodification of modern computing and imaging technologies will see increasing use in Russian and indigenous designs of third generation microprocessor, signal processor and imaging chips. With technology controls now largely non-viable, as Asian nations become subcontract manufacturers for Western consumer technology giants, we can expect to see increasing use of chips such as the Pentium and TMS320 in weapon seekers. Similarly the unrestricted availability of good open source software development tools will see regional PGMs rival the capabilities of US, EU and Israeli products over the next decade - nobody has a monopoly on brains in this game. Basic guidance/navigation technologies like Kalman filters, digital scene matching area correlators (DSMAC) and terrain contour matching (TERCOM) have been mastered by the Russians and more recently the PRC, with India easily having equal engineering talent for this.

A 1950s, 1960s, 1970s or 1980s technology Russian cruise missile, if retrofitted with a modern inertial / satellite / TERCOM / DSMAC / Kalman filter guidance package, will match the lethality of an existing BGM-109 Tomahawk, AGM-86C CALCM, Storm Shadow/Apache or AGM-158 JASSM - even if it lacks the flexibility, survivability or standoff range of newer Western equivalents. A fleet of 1950s designed Bear or Badger bombers armed with inertial / satellite / TERCOM / DSMAC guided cruise missiles yields a similar regional strategic effect to a 1950s designed B-52H carrying ALCMs or JASSMs. Stating that 'our cruise missiles are better than theirs' misses the essential point - you will be just as dead if hit by any of these weapons.

While targeting ISR capabilities will remain a near term issue for Asia's modernising air forces, the established trend to emulate US investment patterns is apt to see the deployment over the next two decades of ISR platforms with long range optical and radar imaging capabilities. What the US did during the 1970s and 1980s is being emulated very closely in Asia.

Asia's force structure investment patterns will have a major strategic impact on US aligned Asian nations, the US and Australia, all of whom will be presented with a region which in technology and numbers compares closely to the bloc of EU NATO nations. An environment rich in long range third generation fighters, often supported by tankers, with land, sea and air launched cruise missiles, standoff missiles and smart bombs is an environment unforgiving to air forces without the ability to rapidly achieve air dominance and maintain it. This puts a premium on air superiority fighters with good counter-air and cruise missile defence capabilities, as it does on AEW&C and tanker capabilities. Numbers will matter as even a small number of smart bomb equipped Sukhois or cruise missile equipped bombers can cause enormous mayhem if they can bypass defences.

The idea that 'economy force structure solutions' will be viable in the Asia-Pacific is a fantasy which is rapidly evaporating, with every additional buy of modern PGMs in the region.

To appreciate the magnitude of this fundamental strategic change it is illustrative to explore the characteristics of weapons now deployed, deploying or being marketed within the region.

This analysis is an expanded and updated derivative of the 2004 analysis.

Technical Analyses

A more detailed discussion of the all the weapons in this analysis can be found under the following analyses. These also include a range of weapons which have yet to be deployed in the region, but are being actively marketed.

Equivalence Table

Russian / Chinese Weapon    
NATO Designation                
Western Weapon
GBU-16 Paveway II

GBU-32/35 JDAM
KAB-1500L -
GBU-10 Paveway II
3,000 lb Weapon
KAB-1500Kr -
3,000 lb Weapon;
DSMAC seeker
KAB-1500S/S-E -
3,000 lb Weapon
KAB-1500TK -
GBU-15 CWW; Spice
3,000 lb Weapon
Kh-22 Burya
AS-4 Kitchen
Avro Blue Steel
AS-14B Kedge
AS.30 Laser;
AGM-65E Maverick
AS-14A Kedge AGM-65B Maverick; Supersonic
AS-17 Krypton
MA-31 target drone; Supersonic
Kh-35U Uran
AS-20 Kayak
AGM-84 Harpoon

3M-24 Uran SS-N-20 Switchblade AGM-84 Harpoon
Kh-41/3M-80/3M-82 Moskit
SS-N-22 Sunburn
Kh-55 Granat AS-15A Kent BGM-109C TLAM
Kh-55SM Granat
AS-15B Kent

Kh-59M/MK Ovod
AS-18 Kazoo
AGM-142 Popeye
Turbojet powered
Kh-61/3M-55/PJ-10 Yakhont/Brahmos
SS-N-27 Sizzler

3M-54E SS-N-27 Sizzler None Supersonic
3M-14E SS-N-27 Sizzler BGM-109C TLAM
CSS-N-1 Silkworm
CSS-N-2 Seersucker
CSS-C-7 Sadsack
CAS-1A Kraken
YJ-61/C-611 CAS-1B Kraken None
None TV/Datalink
LACM variant expected
CSS-N-4 Sardine MM.39/AM.39 Exocet

YJ-82/C-802 CSS-N-8 Saccade AGM-84 Harpoon
KD-82/C-802KD -

YJ-83/C-803 -
AGM-84 Harpoon
AJ-168 Martel


Precision Guided Munitions

NPO Mashinostroyenia 3K-55/3M-55/Kh-61 Yakhont/PJ-10 Brahmos A/S

Kh-61 Yakhont on Su-33 Flanker D. Note the centreline Kh-41 Moskit / Sunburn.

The shining star in the current export lineup of Russian weapons is the Yakhont, recently licenced by India as the Brahmos A and Brahmos S. China is reported to have purchased the baseline 3M-55 for a number of naval vessels.

The OKB-52 3K-55/3M-55 Yakhont (SS-N-26) is like the Moskit a complete family of supersonic rocket-ramjet missiles. Ship, submarine, air and ground launched variants exist. The missile weighs 3 tonnes at launch, and uses a liquid propellant for the ramjet which propels it at speeds between Mach 2.0 and 2.5. The Yakhont typically cruises to the target area at high altitude, and then descends for a sea skimming attack from under the horizon. The distance at which it begins its descent can be programmed before launch, this determining the achievable range which is between 65 and 160 nautical miles( Refer Tsarev V., Melnikov V., 'Yakhont - New Generation Antiship Missile', Military Parade, Exclusives, 2000.).

Indian promotional materials indicate guidance improvements to the Brahmos over the original design, and the intent to deploy shipboard, mobile coastal defence and air delivered variants. There has also been speculation about a land attack or dual role variant, requiring a more accurate midcourse navigation system.

At 6,000+ lb launch weight, the Yakhont/Brahmos would be carried by Su-27/30 on a centreline adaptor.

Raduga 3M80, 3M81, 3M82 and Kh-41/ASM-MSS Moskit

The Raduga 3M-80, 3M-82 and Kh-41 Moskit (SS-N-22 Sunburn) are all variants of the same 4.5 tonne supersonic rocket-ramjet missile. This weapon is the primary armament of the PLA-N's new 956E Sovremennyy class destroyers and is credited with a range between 50 and 120 nautical miles. An air launch centreline tunnel adaptor enables Su-27/30 family strike fighters to carry a single round and this configuration has been displayed on the navalised Su-33. A coastal defence variant labelled the Moskit E is in development, with a two round TEL based on the MZKT-7930 chassis.

Inertial midcourse guidance is supplemented with an Altair active radar seeker - there are no reports to date of land attack derivatives.

Unlike subsonic Western anti-ship missiles such as the Harpoon and Exocet, the Moskit is a supersonic sea-skimmer. It can be programmed to fly a high altitude trajectory at Mach 3, or a sea-skimming trajectory at Mach 2.2. If the sea skimming mode is chosen, the missile will be first detected by a warship under attack when it emerges over the horizon at a distance of about 15 to 25 nautical miles. This provides the defences on the ship with about 25-60 seconds of warning time before impact. The raw speed of the Moskit makes it a challenging target for most shipboard defences.

Novator 3M54/3M14 Club

3M54E1 Sizzler subsonic ASCM (Novator)

3M54E Sizzler supersonic ASCM. The supersonic kill stage is carried to the target area by a subsonic cruise airframe  (Novator)

The Novator 3M-54 Club (SS-N-27 Sizzler) comprises a complete family of ship (Club N), submarine (Club S) and air launched weapons. Unlike warship launched Moskit and Yakont variants, the Club is designed for launch from a 533 mm torpedo tube, or a vertical launch tube( Refer Military Parade, 2000-1 Exclusives Issue, Kamnev P., 'The Club Missile System').

Five distinct variants of this weapon exist. The basic 3M-54E1 and 3M-14E most closely resemble the US Navy's anti-ship and land attack Tomahawk missile. This weapon has a range of 160 nautical miles and is subsonic. The 3M-54E1 uses an ARGS-54 active radar seeker and Glonass satellite and inertial guidance, the 3M-14E Glonass satellite and inertial guidance alone. The more advanced 3M-54E combines the subsonic cruise airframe of the 3M-54E1/3M-14E with a Mach 2.9 rocket propelled guided payload.

Like its subsonic sibling, it approaches from under the radar horizon using the same radar seeker to detect its target. Once locked on, it discards the cruise airframe, fires its rocket motor, and accelerates to Mach 2.9 at a sea skimming altitude of 15 feet. Novator claim the missile follows a zig-zag flightpath to defeat defences. Both the 3M-54E1 and 3M-54E are small weapons which are difficult to detect on radar, especially should even basic radar signature reduction techniques be applied to them. The 91RE1 and 91RE2 are rocket boosted homing torpedoes, most closely resembling the US ASROC and Sea Lance weapons. All five weapons in this family share a common launch system and thus any ship, submarine or aircraft equipped for these weapons can carry an arbitrary mix.

Press reports indicate that India has fielded this weapon, and there are claims China also ordered in a 'tit-for-tat' deal for planned Kilo SSKs. The air launched variant has been marketed on the Su-32FN/34 but there are no reports as yet of hard sales.

Raduga Kh-22M Burya

Kh-22 Kitchen on the centreline semi-conformal station of a Backfire [More images ...] (US DoD).

The mighty Kh-22 (AS-4 Kitchen) was the weapon which stimulated the development of the SPY-1 Aegis system. Designed during the 1960s for dual role use as a nuclear armed standoff weapon equivalent to the RAF's Blue Steel, and as an anti-shipping missile with either radar or anti-radiation seekers, the Kh-22 remains in service as the primary armament of the RuAF's residual fleet of Tu-22M3 Backfires. While the Tu-95K-22 Bear G was equipped to carry up to three Kh-22s, its progressive retirement has limited use to the Backfire.

The Kh-22 is a formidable weapon by any measure, powered by an Isayev R-201-300 (S5.33) liquid rocket delivering 83 kN full thrust and 5.9 kN cruise thrust, it is claimed to exceed 4.6 Mach in cruise at 80,000 ft AGL. Around 3 tonnes of propellant and oxidiser are carried - the highly toxic fuel presents serious handling problems in fuelling up the missile (these Isayev liquid fuel  engines ran with AK-20K oxidiser - 80% nitric acid, 20% N2O4 with fluorine or iodine additives and TG02 fuel - 50% xylidine and 50% triethylamine). Cited range varies between 145 NMI (270 km) and 300 NMI (550 km), subject to variant and launch speed/altitude. Russian sources claim the 900 kg shaped charge warhead will blow a 5 metre diameter hole, penetrating 12 metres deep, when impacting a large warship.

Seven variants have been reported to date, and a mid life upgrade for the APK-22 guidance package has also been recently reported. Nuclear armed variants included a TERCOM system to supplement the inertial unit. If China proceeds with the much speculated upon Backfire purchase, the Kh-22 is likely to be supplied as the basic weapon for the aircraft. The Backfire carries up to three rounds, although typical payloads are one or two, on BD-45K/F adaptors.

HY-1/HY-2/HY-4 Silkworm/Seersucker and C-601/C-611 Kraken

CAS-1 Kraken on a H-6D Badger (PLA-N)

When the Raduga bureau designed the P-15/4K-40 Termit (SS-N-2 Styx) anti-ship missile during the late 1950s, little could they have imagined that it would remain in production a half century later. The original Styx was powered by an Isayev P-15 liquid rocket rated at 1.213-0.554 tonnes thrust, using toxic AK-20K/TG-02 propellant, armed with an 1,100 lb (513 kg) shaped charge warhead and fitted with a con-scan active radar seeker. The weapon's first kill was the Israeli warship Eilat in 1967.

Cloned Chinese Styxes entered production in 1974 as the HY-1/SY-1 or CSS-N-1 Silkworm coastal defence and shipborne ASM. The Chinese soon improved the design, the stretched 6,600 lb (3,000 kg) HY-2 (C-201) or CSS-N-2 Seersucker carrying more propellant and achieving a range of up to 73 NMI (135 km). Many derivative followed, including models with infrared homing seekers, television seekers, monopulse radar seekers and the turbojet powered HY-4. The air launched YJ-6/C-601 or CAS-1 Kraken entered production during the mid 1980s, based on the HY-2 variant, and is carried by naval H-6D Badgers. It was superceded in production by the YJ-61/C-611 with improved 110 NMI (200 km) range via higher energy propellant. Iran acquired several hundred HY-2s and used the missile extensively during the 'tanker war'. It is now claimed that Iran is manufacturing its own clones of the HY-2 and HY-4.

While the Silkworm/Seersucker is a subsonic sea skimmer, it sheer size adds significant lethality. While it is often not regarded to be a serious threat to surface warships, it has the killing power to be a very effective blockade weapon against civilian shipping and naval transports, or amphibious vessels. Iraq used the HY-2 as a land attack cruise missile prior to the fall of Saddam, five were launched and most were neither detected nor engaged by Patriot batteries due to their low level cruise profile over flat terrain. Papers by US analyst Dennis Gormley repeatedly note the ease with which the land mobile turbojet powered HY-4 could be stretched to provide a 380 NMI (700 km) class cruise missile, equipped with GPS/IMU accurate enough to present a genuine risk to coalition ground forces. With thousands of cloned Styx derivatives worldwide, this early Cold War relic may remain a viable weapon in coming decades.

4K51 Rubezh Coastal Defence System

4K51 Rubezh (SSC-3) coastal defence ASCM TELAR in deployed configuration.


The recently revealed KD-63 is a derivative of the air-breathing HY-4 Sadsack. While it retains the delta wing and fuselage shape of the HY-4, it uses a new cruciform tail design, and includes a television / datalink terminal guidance package. It is thus a dual role weapon, capable of precision strikes against land and maritime targets. It is carried by the newly designed H-6H Badger variant, replacing the pair of Krakens carried by earlier variants. Range is cited at around 100 nautical miles.

Chinese Land Attack Cruise Missiles

Undesignated PLA cruise missile, possibly a DH-10 prototype.

China has had a long running program aimed at developing land attack cruise missiles suitable for aerial, sub and ship deployment. Reports abound claiming the PRC has actively shopped the Middle East for debris from expended or failed Tomahawk rounds. More recently reports have emerged claiming China has purchased tooling for the Raduga Kh-65SE, the reduced range export variant of the Kh-55 (AS-15 Kent) which is Russia's answer to the Boeing AGM-86B ALCM.

Many sources claim that the PLA now operates the indigenous HN-1 (320 NMI/600 km), HN-2 (800+ NMI/1,500+ km) and the HN-3 (1,350 NMI/2,500 km). The sole good quality image to emerge suggests these weapons are clones of the BGM-109 Tomahawk, suitable for naval and aerial launch. The DH-10 cruise missile, declared operational, also resembles a Tomahawk.

Given the availability of Russian TERCOM, DSMAC, Glonass, Western GPS and computer technology, the only issue for the PLA will lie in good quality 12 inch 600 lb class turbofan availability to power a genuine AGM-86/BGM-109 class strategic cruise missile. With submarines, surface warships and H-6H Badgers, there is no shortage of launch platforms. The recently unveiled H-6H variant with four wing pylons is clearly intended for such a role.

DH-10 Cruise Missile illustration.

 Raduga Kh-55/55OK/55SM Cruise Missile

Raduga Kh-55SM Kent with conformal fuel tanks.

China is known to have illegally acquired, in a joint operation with Iran, several examples of the Kh-55SM Kent cruise missile from storage in the Ukraine, including some ground equipment. The cost of the investment suggests an interest in partial or complete reverse engineering of this missile.

The Kh-55 family of cruise missiles owes its origins to a series of internal studies at the Raduga OKB during the early 1970s. Raduga were unsuccessful initially in convincing the Soviet leadership of the value of their concept, but this changed as public knowledge of the US AGM-86 Air Launched Cruise Missile program became better known in the Soviet Union.

Russian sources claim that Raduga's early work on these weapons was opposed by many Russian experts who were deeply sceptical of the viability of such a complex new weapon.

The Kh-55 family of weapons most closely resemble the early US BGM-109 Tomahawk in concept, using a cylindrical fuselage with pop out planar wings, unfolding tail control surfaces, and a ventral turbofan engine, with guidance provided by a TERrain COntour Matching (TERCOM) aided inertial navigation system.

The most visible difference between the Tomahawk and Kh-55 families of missiles is the engine installation. The Tomahawk's Williams F107-WR100 engine is embedded in the tail and uses a ventral inlet duct and tailcone exhaust. The Kh-55's Omsk AMKB TVD-50 two spool turbofan is mounted in a nacelle which is stowed in the aft fuselage and deploys via a ventral door on a pylon after launch.

The TVD-50 is a critical piece of technology in the Kh-55 as it is a compact and fuel efficient turbofan in the thrust and size class required to power cruise missiles, standoff missiles and UAVs. The cited thrust rating is 400 to 500 kp (880 to 1,000 lbf), with a dry mass of 95 kg (210 lb), a Specific Fuel Consumption of 0.65, a length of 0.85 m (33.5 in) and diameter of 0.33 m (13 in).

The Tomahawk uses a four surface tail control assembly with anhedral on the stabilators, whereas the Kh-55 uses only three larger surfaces, with more pronounced anhedral, a configuration since adopted in the new Block IV RGM/UGM-109E Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. The largely symmetrical aft fuselage of the Tomahawk differs from the more pronounced sculpting of the Kh-55 aft fuselage.

The cylindrical fuselage configuration is essentially the same for both designs. The Tomahawk has a 21 in diameter, the Kh-55 a 20.5 in diameter, the Tomahawk weighed 2,700 lb at launch, the Kh-55 2,870 lb. The later blocks of the Tomahawk have a chinned 'Beluga' nose to reduce radar signature, the Kh-55 retains an ogival/spherical nose.

The baseline guidance package on both missiles is designed around a digital computer running Kalman filter and TERCOM software, with an onboard memory storing a digital map, coupled to a radar altimeter for terrain profiling and a low drift inertial unit. Tomahawks later acquired an optical Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator and GPS - the Soviet had DSMAC technology but it has never been disclosed whether this was added to the Kh-55 series. The cited designation for the Kh-55 guidance package is the Sprut and BSU-55.

Like the Tomahawk, the Kh-55 spawned a range of derivatives, unlike the Tomahawk the Kh-55 became the dominant air launched weapon. The first generation of Kh-55s appeared in three configurations, entering service in 1984. The 'Izdeliye 120' Kh-55 / AS-15A was air launched from the Tu-95MS using a MKU-6-5 rotary launcher and external pylons, the RKV-500A / SS-N-21 Sampson was tube launched from the Type 671 Victor, Type 945 Sierra and Type 971 Akula submarines, and the RK-55 / SSC-X-4 Slingshot tube launched from a MAZ-543M (MAZ-7910) 8x8 TEL, carrying six rounds.

The air launched Kh-55 was followed by the improved 'Izdeliye 124' Kh-55OK, which was supplanted in production by the most capable 'Izdeliye 125' Kh-55SM / AS-15B subtype in 1987.

The aim of the Kh-55SM design was to further extend the striking range of the basic missile, cited at 1,350 NMI (2,500 km). This was achieved by adding a pair of conformal fuselage fuel tanks, which increased launch weight to 3,750 lb (1,700 kg), but increased cruise range to 1,620 NMI (3,000 km) with a 200 kT warhead fitted. The naval variant of the Kh-55SM was designated the RKV-500B.

A conventional derivative of the Kh-55, designated the Kh-555, was recently announced. A lightweight shorter ranging derivative weapon, the Kh-65, has been actively marketed since the 1990s.

For all intents and purposes, the late model Kh-55SM is a heavier and longer ranging equivalent to the BGM-109B Tomahawk, with performance closest to the AGM-86B ALCM.

CASIC YJ-62/C-602 Anti Ship / Land Attack Cruise Missile

Launch of a 'Tomahawk-like' PLA-N YJ-62/C-602 cruise missile .

The YJ-62 cruise missile is a PLAN analogue to the anti-shipping variants of the RGM-109 Tomahawk/MRASM. The weapon has a similar general configuration to the Tomahawk family, but employs a unique fixed scoop inlet for the air breathing engine.

Claims for this weapon include an active radar homing seeker with a monopulse antenna, GPS/Glonass/inertial midcourse guidance, alternate turbojet and turbofan engines, and ship, sub, coastal battery and air launch configurations.

Cited specifications include  a length of 6.1/7.0 metres, launch mass of  1,140/1,350 kg,  warhead mass of 300 kg,  cruise speed of 0.9 Mach, range for turbojet variant of 280 km  /  150 NMI,  and dual mode anti-ship and coastal target capability similar to later blocks of the  Harpoon.

The YJ-62 is claimed to have been deployed on the Type 052C Luyang II destroyer.

Detail of YJ-62/C-602 cruise missile at Zhuhai 2008 (images © 2009, Zhenguan Studio).

CHETA C-701/C-701KD, C-704/C-704KD, C-705 Anti Ship / Land Attack Cruise Missile

Above C-704 cruise missile with active radar seeker (images © 2009, Zhenguan Studio).

The C-701 and C-704 missiles are analogues to the French Exocet family of missiles, available with a range of active radar and electro-optical terminal seekers.

C-704KD Electro-Optical variants with gimballed TV and IIR seekers, at Zhuhai 2008. The IIR version uses a Magnesium Fluoride window (images © 2009, Zhenguan Studio).

C-701 anti-ship cruise missile with active radar seeker displayed at Zhuhai 2008 (image © 2009, Zhenguan Studio).

C-701KD variant with Electro-Optical seeker.

The C-705 is a planar wing derivative of the C-701/704 family of weapons. It was first displayed at Zhuhai 2008 (image © 2009, Zhenguan Studio).

CHETA YJ-8/YJ-81/C-801, YJ-82/C-802 and YJ-83/C-803 Anti Ship Cruise Missile

YJ-82/C-802A cruise missile at Zhuhai 2008 (image © 2009, Zhenguan Studio).

China's indigenous response to the Exocet and Harpoon lies in the YJ-8 (CSS-N-4 Sardine) family of missiles, available in ship, sub, land and air launch variants. The basic air launch rocket powered YJ-8K achieves 27 NMI (50 km) range, the improved YJ-81 cca 43 NMI (80 km), the turbojet YJ-82 (CSS-N-8 Saccade) cca 65 NMI (120 km), and the recently trialed YJ-83 variant around 135 NMI (250 km). These are the primary weapon of many PLA-N warships, and the FH-7 maritime fighter carrying four rounds.

Molniya Kh-29 / 9M721

Kh-29TE (left) and APK-9E datalink pod (centre).

The Molniya Kh-29 / AS-14 Kedge is a Russian supersonic equivalent to the French AS.30 and US AGM-65 Maverick, and is primarily intended for interdiction and close air support, and maritime strike roles. An APU-58 or AKU-58 launcher is used, on the Su-27/30 Flanker (up to 6 rounds), the MiG-27 Flogger (2 rounds), Su-17/22 Fitter (2 rounds) and Su-24M Fencer (3 round). Multiple variants exist.

The Kh-28L (Izdeliye 63 or AS-14A) is a semi-active laser homing variant used in the manner of the AS.30L, with a 24N1 seeker.  The Kh-29T (Izdeliye 64 or AS-14B) is an electro-optical variant with a TV datalink and command uplink, using the APK-9 Tekon pod. The Kh-29TE is an enhanced variant. The Kh-29D is another EO variant, equipped with a thermal imaging seeker.

Launch weight for most variants is around 1,500 lb, with a 700 lb warhead being used most often. Range is usually cited at 16 nautical miles for a high altitude launch.

Kh-29L (foreground) and Kh-29TE (background).

Zvezda Kh-31P/A/MR/MA 'Mini-Moskit'

The Mach 4.5 ramjet Kh-31P/MP/A/MA Krypton family of missiles includes anti-radiation, anti-shipping and anti-AWACS variants. Reports claim the PRC intends to licence build this weapon, depicted an Su-30KN prototype (KNAAPO).

Dubbed the 'Mini-Moskit', the supersonic Turayev ramjet powered Kh-31P (AS-17 Krypton) was originally designed as an anti-radiation missile to suppress NATO Patriot and IHawk batteries, entering use in 1988, with an L-111E family interferometric seeker. Since the end of the Cold War it has evolved an extended range airframe (Kh-31MP / Type 2 - 100+ NMI range). An anti-ship variant equipped with an active radar seeker, the Kh-31A/MA, was recently introduced, adaptation of this seeker permitting counter-ISR roles as an AWACS-Killer. At altitude the Kh-31 achieves Mach 4.5, as sea level Mach 2.7. Su-30MK fitted for the Kh-31 series carry up to six rounds on wing stations 3, 4, 11, 12 and inlet stations 9 and 10, using AKU-58 adaptors, the Su-27SKU four rounds on 3, 4, 9 and 10.

It has no equivalent in the Western inventory, the US Navy using it as the MA-31 target drone. The PLA is reported to use this weapon with recent claims of plans for licence production.

Raduga Kh-59/59M/D Ovod

The Kh-59M/D is a direct equivalent to the AGM-142 and the PLA-AF Su-30MKK can carry two rounds. Daylight TV and IIR versions exist (Rosoboronexport).

The 2,000 lb (920 kg) 62 NMI (115 km) range Kh-59M/D (AS-18 Kazoo) series stand-off weapon is a direct equivalent to the AGM-142 missile now being integrated on the RAAF's F-111C. Evolved from an anti-radiation missile, it shares the common Granit 7TM1 optical seeker and Raduga APK-9 Tekon DL pod with the KAB series, the D-model fitted with a thermal imager, and uses an RDK-300 jet sustainer. The PLA-N is reported to have ordered an anti-ship variant equipped with a radar seeker, designated the Kh-59MK2, for the Su-30MK2.

Su-27SK/30MK fitted for the Kh-59M/MK2 carry two rounds on wing stations 3 and 4, using AKU-58 adaptors, the pod carried on inlet station 9.

Kh-59MK2 prototype for the PLA-N Su-30MK2, carried on an Su-24 Fencer.

Zvezda 3M-24/Kh-35U Uran

Dubbed the Kharpunski the Kh-35U Uran (AS-20 Kayak/SS-N-25 Switchblade) is the Russian equivalent to the US RGM-84/AGM-84 Harpoon. The missile is available in surface launched and air launched versions (AKU-58 adaptor) and was publicly canvassed as an option for India's Tu-142 Bear upgrade - it is already deployed on the New Delhi class DDG, reports indicate China ordered in 2001. An ARGS-35 active radar seeker is used, and there are claims of a 'SLAM-like' land attack variant although no images are as yet available.

Bal E Coastal Defence System

The Bal E is the replacement for the Rubezh coastal defence system. This design departs from the arrangement of the Rubezh,  the new weapon system is designed around an 8 round TEL armed with the 3M-24 Uran ASCM and a separate command/control and targeting vehicle. Like the Rubezh, the Bal E employs a command and control vehicle equipped with an acquisition and targeting radar, and a telescoping datalink mast to network the TELs. While demonstrators were built on the MAZ-7910 chassis, production vehicles use the MZKT-7930 chassis. The stated CONOPS for the Bal E is for batteries to produce saturation missile attacks against hostile amphibious forces.

Bal E 'self propelled command/communications and targeting post' demonstrator on MAZ-7910.

Production Bal E TEL using MZKT-7930 chassis. Demonstrator on MAZ-7910 [Click here].

GNPP KAB-1500/KAB-500/KAB-250 Precision Guided Bombs

KAB-1500Kr Electro-Optically Guided Bomb training round.

Russia's family of KAB-1500 and KAB-500 smart bombs are an equivalent to the US Paveway II/III and GBU-15 family of guided bombs. Sharing common design modules with unique seeker designs, and a range of standard warhead types, this family of weapons encompasses all of the baseline capabilities in their US equivalents.

The KAB (Korrektiruyeskaya Aviatsionnaya Bomba) family of weapons were developed during the 1970s by Moscow based GNPP, and it is likely that warstocks of the Paveway, Walleye and HOBOS captured in South Vietnam during 1975 played an important role in the design process. The basic configuration of the 500 kg weapons is common to the GBU-8 HOBOS TV guided bomb family using tail controls and fixed canards, less the GBU-8's lift enhancing strakes. The 1,500 kg weapon is closer to a hybrid of the Paveway II and HOBOS configuration, with steerable canards and spring deployed cruciform tail.

Two common seekers are currently available across the product range. The first seeker is the '27N' semi-active laser homing seeker using a ring airfoil and optical path similar to the Paveway II series (KAB-500L, KAB-1500L). It will provide similar characteristics to the baseline Paveway II seeker. The cited 4 metre Circular Error Probable is however consistent with a proportional control algorithm rather than the bang-bang design in the Paveway II. A laser designator such as the Klyon PM/PS, Kaira 24M, I-25 Shkval, or a targeting pod such as the Sapsan-E would be used, or a Western pod with the laser exciter configured with Russian seeker coding.

GNPP KAB-500 and KAB-1500 guided bombs (Author)

GNPP KAB-1500L cutaways - blast/frag variant (upper) and penetrator variant (lower).

The second 7TM1 seeker bears a striking resemblance to the GBU-8/15 configuration, with a gimballed TV camera under a hemispherical dome, and is largely common to the Kh-29TE and Kh-59M standoff missiles. The seeker field of regard would be in excess of 45 degrees off boresight, permitting some flexibility in bomb release.

The daylight TV seeker is available with two different guidance packages. The first, designated Televizionno-Komandnaya is a man in the loop command link arrangement similar in concept to the GBU-15 (KAB-1500TK). A Raduga APK-8 or APK-9 datalink pod common to the Kh-59 is used to send steering commands to the bomb, and receive video from the seeker during flight for display in the cockpit. This seeker will achieve similar effect to the GBU-15 and will be extremely accurate.

The second guidance package designated 'Korrelatsionaya' employs a Scene Matching Area Correlator package (KAB-500Kr, KAB-1500Kr), which guides the bomb to a set of coordinates within a preprogrammed image surrounding the target - it is similar technology to the DSMAC in the BGM-109 Tomahawk. EU sources claim this guidance package can hit completely hidden targets providing their location is well known relative to visually prominent features surrounding the aimpoint. It is likely the bomb needs to be programmed on the ground, although this is apt to change now with the added computing power in recent Su-30 variants. Multiple rounds can be released in a single pass at multiple aimpoints, not unlike the JDAM.

While EU sources speculate on the existence of a thermal imaging variant, its existence cannot be confirmed as no photographs are available showing the Zinc Sulphide or Fluoride glass nose windows required. As Russia's industry is now experimenting with QWIP Focal Plane Array imaging chips, a day/night thermal imaging variant is a likely future prospect. The design changes would be in a revised gimbal with a cooling assembly and an IR transmissive window.

The most recent variants are the KAB-500S-E  and KAB-1500S-E, equipped with a satellite/inertial guidance system analogous to the US JDAM weapons. Their production status is currently unclear, but trial drops are known to have been performed.

The 3,000 lb (1,500 kg) class KAB-1500 bombs are the heavyweights, with blast, blast fragmentation and subcalibre bunker busting warhead options, the latter claimed to be capable of penetrating up to 20 metres of soil and 2 metres of reinforced concrete. The 1,000 lb (500 kg) class KAB-500 bombs are GBU-16/32/35 equivalents, with blast, submunition dispensing, blast fragmentation and fuel-air explosive warhead options. The Su-27/30 is cleared to lift up to 6 KAB-500s or 3 KAB-1500s on wing stations 3 and 4, inlet stations 9 and 10, and centreline tandem stations 1 and 2. The KAB-500 is carried on a BD-3U adaptor, the KAB-1500 on a BD4 adaptor.

KAB-500SE satellite aided inertially guided bomb.

KAB-500Kr Electro-Optically Guided Bomb.

KAB-500L Laser Guided Bomb.

KAB-1500L Laser Guided Bomb.

KAB-250L laser guided bomb.


  1. Kopp C., Australian Aviation  - July 1988 - Maritime Strike - The Soviet Perspective
  2. Kopp C., Australian Aviation  - September 2000 -Sunburns, Yakhonts, Alfas and the Region
  3. Kopp C., Australian Aviation  - July 2004 - Asia's Advanced Precision Guided Munitions
  4. Kopp C., Australian Aviation  - August 2004 - The Sleeping Giant Awakens (PLA-AF/PLA-N)
  5. Kopp C., Australian Aviation  - September 2004 - Backfires for China?
  6. Kopp C., Australian Aviation  - October 2004 - Defeating Cruise missiles
  7. Kopp C., Defence Today - January/February 2006  -  Regional Precision Guided Munitions Survey
  8. Kopp C., The International Assessment and Strategy Center -  September 22nd, 2004 -  Backfires and the PLA-AF's New 'Strategic Air Force'
  9. Kopp C., The International Assessment and Strategy Center -  June 22nd,  2006 -  Bypassing the NMD: China and the Cruise Missile Proliferation Problem

Imagery Sources: Author; Rosoboronexport; Russkaya Sila; Xinhua; KnAAPO; MilitaryPhotos.net; Military.cz

Technical Report APA-TR-2007-0109

People's Liberation Army Air Power Index Page [Click for more ...]
Military Ethics, Culture, Education and Training Index Page [Click for more ...]
Russian / Soviet Weapon Systems Index Page [Click for more ...]

Artwork, graphic design, layout and text © 2004 - 2014 Carlo Kopp; Text © 2004 - 2014 Peter Goon; All rights reserved. Recommended browsers. Contact webmaster. Site navigation hints. Current hot topics.

Site Update Status: $Revision: 1.753 $ Site History: Notices and Updates / NLA Pandora Archive