Russia Tests Cutting-Edge Kh-69 Missile in Ukraine Conflict

Su-57 Missile Kh-69 Spotted in Use in Ukraine Conflict.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

Russia appears to have avoided using its fifth-generation stealth fighter, the Su-57, in hostilities in Ukraine; nonetheless, an interesting development has emerged: the apparent employment of the precision weapon Kh-69, which was initially built for the fighter plane. The world saw its first public display of the Kh-69 aviation high-precision cruise missile at the Army-2022 international military event.

Social media accounts suggest that three Kh-69 and three Kh-59 missiles were fired at Ukrainian military infrastructure during the night of February 7-8.

Generally, the Kh-69 is associated with the Su-57 fighter aircraft. However, this precision weapon is also deployable from other Russian tactical aircraft, including the MiG-29K, MiG-35, and Su-35, demonstrating its versatility.

The Kh-69’s appearance in the Ukrainian conflict may be less significant than the supposed deployment of the “Zircon” missile. Nonetheless, it demonstrates Russia’s willingness to use cutting-edge weaponry in active battle zones.

This example highlights the Russian military forces’ transition to deploying newly designed and modern munitions.

The UK Ministry of Defence has also lately speculated that the Russians are using the current crisis to test new military systems in combat.

The Russian corporation “Raduga,” a Tactical Missile Corporation (KTRV) branch, created the Kh-59MK2, the predecessor of the precision missile currently known as the Kh-69.

At first, looking similar to the Kh-59MK, the Kh-59MK2 was equipped with improved guidance systems, such as an electro-optical digital terrain-matching system for target approach, which was adopted from the Kh-55, and an inertial navigation system with GPS/GLONASS for mid-flight course updates.

It was primarily promoted for export, hoping to draw in foreign consumers. However, it’s still unclear if it was successful. The -Kh59MK2 saw a major overhaul in 2015 when it resurfaced as the Kh-69. This version included low-observable qualities and a modified body (box body with a trapezoidal cross-section) that fit the Su-57’s internal UVKU-50U/L suspension nodes.

The effective radar cross-section is expected to be 0.007 to 0.01 square metres. AWACS aircraft radar can detect objects with a low radar cross-section from an 80-110 km distance. However, NATO aircraft flying over Romania were allegedly unable to identify Kh-69 missiles launched at Ukrainian military targets in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk directions.

These missiles are outfitted with some of the most modern and noise-resistant guidance systems, namely strap-down inertial navigation systems with optical-electronic correlation (DSMAC). The rocket’s GLONASS correction modules use Comet-M antennas with a restricted radiation pattern screened in the lower hemisphere. This solution minimised interference from adversary ground-based L-band electronic warfare weapons. The low-altitude flying route in terrain following mode ranges between 70 and 25 m, depending on the terrain features, with a predicted circular variation of 3 to 5 m.

The TRDD-50B turbojet engine has a low infrared signature, equivalent to Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG missile engines, making it a rather tough target for the optical-electronic guidance modules.

Even with these successes, overseas sales may not have translated. But when Russia turned its attention to obtaining Su-57 fighters, “Raduga” took advantage of the chance to modify the Kh-69 for internal bay use, improving its capabilities and design following the demands of the Su-57 programme.

With a more than 300 km range, the Kh-69 is intended for high-precision strikes against fortified targets. Target coordinates can be modified in the air or programmed before takeoff.

Kh-69 can be equipped with a penetrating or cluster warhead weighing 310 or 300 kg. The target angle when launching a missile is ±45°. The probable circular deviation from a given aiming point is 5-7 m. Kh-69 can be launched from a carrier aircraft while flying at altitudes from 200 meters to 11 km and at a speed of 0.5-0.9 M. It can travel at speeds of up to 1000 km/h.

The Kh-69 missile is likened to the Storm Shadow and the SCALP EG, the French missile, in terms of capability. Both missiles have a flight range of roughly 250 km. The weight of the Kh-69 is 710 kg. The fuselage length is 4.19 m, the width and height with the wing and tail consoles folded is 40 cm, and the wingspan is 2.45 m.

In addition, the Kh-69 can carry roughly two-thirds of the Storm Shadow/SCALP EG payload and is substantially smaller than the latter, measuring roughly 4 instead of 5 metres.

The kh-69 is a notable piece of Russian air-launched tactical ordnance, even in small form factor, especially when compared to homemade glide bombs that are still in use today.

The Kh-69 is a notable capability jump, including higher survivability, longer range, and better accuracy. Meanwhile, its upgraded features are more expensive than previous Russian weapons.


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