- Start of development
- The first samples and "field" tests
- First failure
- The start of entering the troops
- Main design features
- Modification option
- Aerodynamics and powerplant characteristics
- Types of fuel used
- Operating principle
- Maneuvering and flight
The time is long past when the main weapon of the aircraft was an automatic gun. Of course, such is available on board each modern combat fighter or interceptor, but its real value is very small. The basis of the combat power of modern air force is a cruise missile. The X-55 is one of the first and most effective models of such weapons that were adopted by the Soviet army.
Start of development
It all started back in 1975. Then the team of the Raduga ICB came up with the initiative to create a new type of small-sized missiles with a nuclear warhead that would significantly enhance the combat power of the domestic Air Force. It is not known for what reasons, but initially the proposal was rejected. However, as early as next year he was accepted, and, moreover, the plant began work on the accelerated development of this type of weapon. Thus, the Kh-55 rocket was conceived and brought to life by a talented team of the ICB Raduga. Of course, it was not immediately.
The first samples and "field" tests
The first samples began to be collected in Dubna, and this happened in 1978. But due to the fact that the enterprise was loaded with the release of Kh-22 missiles, it was decided to launch the production in Kharkov. In the early years, the Kharkiv plant only partially produced the main components of the rocket, while the finished products were assembled in Dubna, but soon the enterprise completely switched to a closed production cycle.
At the very beginning of 1978 (even before the completion of all stages of testing), the USSR government decided to establish the serial production of these missiles as soon as possible. In late 1980, the first production rocket X-55 was solemnly handed over to the customer. From the very beginning, it was assumed that the carriers of the new powerful weapons will be the White Swans Tu-160 and the Bears Tu-95. Tests of the X-55 were conducted at the site in Faustovo.
For the first time, the Kh-55 serial missile flew on February 23, 1981. A total of a dozen launches were conducted, and the product refused only one. Moreover, the matter was not in some constructive flaw, but in the failure of the electric generator. But why is it needed at all in the design of such a specific ammunition, if it is possible to constructively design a high-capacity rechargeable battery?
The fact is that nuclear-warhead missiles were originally designed so that, if necessary, to maximize their practical range of use. Standard batteries throughout the "route" simply can not provide power to all components. And because they are powered by a small-sized electricity generator RDK-300.
The start of entering the troops
For the first time, this rocket was adopted by units based in Semipalatinsk. In 1983, the first exercises were held, during which the regiment worked out practical skills on the use of this weapon in conditions as close as possible to the combat ones. In December of the same year, the modernized version of the Tu-95 was officially adopted, the main weapon of which was the Kh-55 (cruise missile).
In 1984, the next tests were carried out, which revealed that it can hit the target with a high accuracy at a distance of 2.5 thousand kilometers. In 1986, production was completely transferred to the city of Kirov. To unload the assembly shops, some elements of the missiles began to be produced at the Smolensk Aviation Plant.
Main design features
What is the difference between the X-55? Cruise missile is based on a standard aerodynamic configuration. The body of the product is steel, on welded joints. In fact, more than 70% of the fuselage volume is a fuel tank. The power structure is represented by frames on which all the instruments and equipment are mounted, they are also responsible for the solid docking of the missile compartments. Since it was required to simplify the construction as much as possible, almost all the frame elements were made thin-walled.
How large is the X-55 strategic cruise missile? The diameter of its fuselage is half a meter. The total wingspan is just over three meters. The hull length is nine meters, the normal starting weight is 1.7 tons. The maximum deviation from the target is one hundred meters. In subsequent modifications, this value was reduced to 20 meters, but at the same time the range of application fell to 2, 000 kilometers. Naturally, this option did not suit the engineers and scientists at all.
However, there was another X-55. The strategic cruise missile with the “SM” index, on the hull of which special overhead fuel tanks were produced, could already fly 3.5 thousand kilometers. But later only the X-555 version was produced, on the case of which there were also structurally incorporated fastenings for additional fuel tanks. This modification could hit targets at a distance of up to 3 thousand kilometers.
The nuclear warhead capacity is 200 kt. Currently, the modified Kh-55 missile is in service. Its characteristics are absolutely identical to those described, but the warhead is “stuffed” not with a nuclear charge, but with a mixture of usual TNT and hexoxene.
Aerodynamics and powerplant characteristics
All protruding parts were made of special composite materials. Such an approach not only allowed a significant reduction in the launch mass, but also made the missile less visible to the radar of a potential enemy. Before launching, the stabilizers and the wing are folded, crammed under the action of the squib gun after the X-55 missile (the photo of which is in the article) is released from the aircraft.
Special mention worthy of the used power plant. The turbojet turbojet P95-300 motor is mounted in the tail section. A special pylon serves as the base. From also folded, extends from the hull immediately before launch. The launch is also carried out under the action of an expelling pyro cartridge. This engine is very compact, but its weight return equals 3.68 kgf / kg. This, by comparison, is fully consistent with that of the most modern combat aircraft.
Due to this, the Kh-55 cruise missile, the characteristics of which make it possible to consider it a completely adequate weapon even for modern conditions, is capable of developing very high speed, which prevents it from intercepting on a combat trajectory.
In fact, according to this characteristic, this weapon is still not inferior to many new developments. Interception of this missile is possible only if the most advanced and complex missile defense systems are used. Considering that rearmament at the present time is unrealistically expensive, the X-55 will remain in service with our country for a long time, having quite modern capabilities and striking power.
Types of fuel used
Its advantage is also an exceptional "omnivorous." The engine of this rocket can work on ordinary aviation kerosene of the T-1, TS-1 and other brands. But for R-95-300, Soviet scientists quickly developed a special substance T-10, which is better known as deciling. It is extremely toxic, but at the same time high-calorie compound. It is on this fuel that the Kh-55 and Kh-555 missiles are able to achieve maximum speed characteristics and range of their flight.
But working with this type of fuel is extremely difficult: deciling is very fluid, and therefore requires frequent maintenance, aimed at maintaining the highest tightness of the case. And they only refuel those missiles that are installed on board the strategic missile carriers of constant combat readiness. In all other cases, the military prefer to use aviation kerosene, as this minimizes the risks for both the soldiers themselves and the civilian population.
The guidance system is inertial, fully autonomous, with flight adjustment depending on the characteristics of the terrain. Before the flight, the reference circuit of the terrain on which the intended target is located is loaded into the onboard equipment of the rocket. During the flight, the Kh-55 air-based cruise missiles can obey both commands from the ground or air, and use a fully autonomous program, moving along the relief. This makes them a truly versatile and extremely dangerous weapon.
Maneuvering and flight
The scheme is simple. First, the rocket is ejected into the air at the expense of the squib, then the main engine is activated, on which it flies the rest of the way to its target. The flight is carried out at an altitude of no more than 60-100 meters. If necessary, the X-55 can fly at an altitude of only 30 meters! At the same time, it avoids all obstacles on its own, can automatically deviate from the course, evading from the identified places of the air defense clusters. The course changes every 100-200 kilometers.
For this, so-called correction marks are entered into the rocket’s memory. When it reaches a certain point, a “reading” of the terrain of the terrain occurs, on the basis of which a new course is laid, which makes it possible to most effectively evade the action of enemy air defense.
At the same time, the results of the area scan are constantly checked against the standard set in the memory, due to which deviations from the given trajectory are impossible. It is through such a decision that these missiles are able to be aimed at a target with such an accuracy that for the previous generation of weapons of this class was practically unattainable. Finally, the real highlight of the X-55 is their particularly difficult maneuvering, as a result of which they are able to evade the attacking air defense weapons in the overwhelming majority of cases.
Currently, these weapons are constantly on duty, protecting the sovereignty of our state. Despite the fact that the rocket was developed back in the 70s of the last century, it cannot be called “outdated” even with great stretch. It performs all of its functions completely, and the modified versions are capable of overcoming even the new ABM systems of all types adopted by the NATO bloc.