Facts

Russian/NATO Designation Kh-55 Granat/AS-15 Kent
Variants Kh-55SM; Kh-555; Kh-65SE; Kh-SD
Mobility and Role Air Launched Sub-Sonic Cruise Missile
Designer/Producer Raduga Design Bureau
Range 2500 km -3500 km
Warhead Type and Weight Conventional or Nuclear/1210 kg
MIRV and Yield No MIRV/ Conventional -410 kg; Nuclear 200-250 kt
Guidance System/Accuracy Inertial; TERCOM/ 25 m CEP
Cruise Altitude 40-110 m
Stages/Propellant 1/ liquid
IOC/Retirement 1984/Still in Service
Status/Number of Units Operational /Unknown
Launch Vehicles Air Launched- Tu-95M-55; Tu-95MS; Tu-160;Tu-22M

 Overview

The Kh-55 Granat and its multiple variants closely resembles the designs of early versions of the Tomahawk cruise missile used by the United States. The Russian air launched subsonic cruise missile is carried by long range bombers and possesses the ability to carry a 250 kt nuclear warhead as well as conventional capabilities. The air-launched cruise missile has a max range of 3500 km and uses inertial navigation as well as Terrain Contour Matching. It is capable of traveling at Mach .77 at a cruise altitude of 40 to 110 meters. Despite coming into service in 1984 as a counter to the US BGM-109 Tomahawk, the Kh-55 is still used to this day. Most recently, one of its variants, the Kh-555, was used to strike ground targets in Syria in 2015 using Tu-22M strategic bombers.

Strategic Implications

The recent use of the Kh-555 in Syria against rebel ground targets shows that this cruise missile, with its long range nuclear capabilities, is still a viable part of the Russian nuclear triad. However, more pressingly, its long range and conventional capabilities gives Russia the ability to power project outside of its own region. Long range weapons such as the Kh-555 have allowed Moscow to act as a global power despite much of Russia’s military only possessing short term and regional capabilities. The Kh-55 can and has directly affected the interests of the United States around the world. Specifically, in Syria the Kh-55 and its variants have been used to advance Russian interests, which are not always aligned with the interests of the United States and its allies working in the region.


Sources:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/as-15-specs.htm

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Rus-Cruise-Missiles.html#mozTocId152650

https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/kh-55/

http://militaryedge.org/armaments/kh-55-as-15-kentsoumar/

https://theaviationist.com/2015/11/17/russian-tu-22s-joined-the-syria-air-war/

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