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Boris Obnosov, general director of Russia's Tactical Missiles Corporation, has said that he does not regard the group's new Kh-31PM and Kh-31AM supersonic air-to-surface missiles as upgrades. "I would not call this activity modernisation," he said. "In essence, we are creating a new missile which will be twice as good as the existing designs... I think, that in one or two years time we shall submit it to official state testing." Given the weapon"s speed and flight profile, he does not envisage that improved ship defences able to counter the Kh-31A will be fielded in the near future.

Two years ago, a representative of the Zvezda-Strela State Research and Production Centre (now part of the Tactical Missiles Corporation) said that baseline design of the Kh-31 gave "ample opportunities for further modernisation. Optimisation of propellant consumption and the missile's flight path can allow a substantial increase in range while preserving the high mean trajectory speed". Modernising the passive and active versions of the Kh-31 would improve their capability, and make these missiles more competitive in the export market. A year ago, Boris Obnosov said that within two or three years, the group would be able to offer "qualitatively new products".

While the company had declined to provide details of these improved missiles, some information is available from unofficial sources and Russian press reports.

The new Kh-31PM is an improved version of the Kh-31P, a passive-homing anti-radiation missile designed to counter air-defence radars, particularly those associated with the US Nike Hercules, Improved Hawk and Patriot systems. It retains the proven aerodynamic configuration and layout of the Kh-31P, which uses an integral solid-propellant boost motor, followed by a kerosene-fuelled ramjet sustainer motor.

For the Kh-31PM and the Kh-31AM anti-ship variant, the Soyuz Engineering Design Bureau at Turaevo and the Iskra Engineering Design Bureau at Kartukov have developed an improved 31DP propulsion system. Suitable for use at speeds of up to Mach 4.5, it has been teamed with an increased amount of internal fuel and a modified control system. These modifications considerably increase the range of the missile, but have minimal effect on its weight.

The Kh-31P is reported to have three optional seeker heads (L-111, L-112, L-113), but for the Kh-31PM the Omsk Plant "Avtomatika" (CKBA) has developed an improved multiband seeker. Designated L-130, this can be used against a wide range of radiating targets, detecting these at a range beyond that of the air-defence system being attacked. The resistance to countermeasures has also been increased. The fuze has also been modified to increase its efficiency.

Developed in parallel with the Kh-31PM, the Kh-31AM is an improved version of the existing Kh-31A anti-ship missile. It uses an improved RGS-31 (U505E) active-radar terminal seeker developed by the Radar-MMS Scientific and Research Enterprise, which offers improved performance and increased resistance to jamming.

The Tactical Missiles Corporation was set up as the result of Russian Federation President's decree no.84 on 24 January 2002. It initially consisted of Zvezda-Strela, Soyuz, Bureau Soyuz, Avtomatika at Omsk, the Ural Design Bureau Detal, Iskra and the Krasny Gidropress plant. A second stage of the expansion was ordered by presidential decree in May 2004, and the company will now include the Horizont and Salyut Joint Stock Companies, the Smolensk Aircraft Plant, the Region State Scientific and Research Enterprise, the Vympel (Toropov) State Engineering Design Bureau, and the Raduga State Engineering Design Bureau from Bereznyak.

October 2004наверх


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