The Russian Aerospace Forces have used the new Kh-101 cruise missiles against terrorists in Syria for the first time.
The Russian Defense Ministry published a video of missile strikes of the Tu-95MS strategic bombers on positions of Syrian terrorists. This is the first official evidence of usage of the new Kh-101 cruise missiles. Before that, only the Tu-160 heavy strategic bombers used these weapons.
The Kh-101 missile is one and half meters longer than standard weapons of the Tu-95, the Kh-55 cruise missile, and does not fit in its weapons bay. For this reason, the bomber, showed on the video, were carrying two missiles on its external suspension (we can see this on the 14th second of the video). In all, judging by the number of carrying piers, the upgraded aircraft can carry up to eight Kh-101 (six Kh-55 can be charged into a cylindrical launching device).
The Kh-101 has an inertial navigation system, like ballistic missiles. Knowing a point of launch, the electronics calculates a current position, using longitudinal and lateral accelerations. Received data are corrected by the optoelectronic system, which compares landscape beneath the missile with a standard for comparison. On approaching a target, the Kh-101 turns on its seeker, whose operating principle is classified as secret.
In contrast to missiles of the previous generation, the Kh-101 can be retargeted on another facility after its launch. Control points of a way and targets, which the missile can hit, are programmed. Then, during a performance of a combat mission, the target can be changed.
The missile is also presented in a nuclear variant – the Kh-102, which is equipped with a 250-kiloton warhead. The Tu-160 is capable of carrying 12 such missiles in its two inner bays.
In the fall of 2015, the Tu-160s struck positions of terrorists in Syria with the new ammunition three times. Combat launches of the Kh-101 from the board of the Tu-95 have been performed for the first time.