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Aug 3, 2022
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Ukrainian air defense completely loses the battle with the Russian “Shadow”

Ukrainian air defense completely loses the battle with the Russian

Photo: Press service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation / TASS

A few days ago, information appeared in the US media about the possibility of placing a “special missile” at the disposal of the Kyiv regime. What is at stake, it became clear after the Minister of Defense of Ukraine made on July 28 Alexey Reznikov statements about the transfer by the American side of “a unique weapon that will be actively used to effectively suppress Russian air defense systems.”

The first samples of the next “wonder weapon” have allegedly already arrived, and “the most powerful army in Europe” is ready to use them in the near future. We believe that we are talking about a rather old and obsolete AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile, adopted by the NATO armies in 1983. To what extent the words of the chief defender of European freedom and democracy correspond to reality, we do not know. But something else is known. The Russian Armed Forces have recently successfully used the upgraded Kh-31PM anti-radar missile during the Z special operation. Let’s talk about her.

high precisionatis surprises specificallyoperations

One of the key features of the Russian special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine was regular strikes with precision-guided weapons on military infrastructure. The result of these strikes was the almost complete destruction of the Ukrainian air defense and air force, as well as very painful violations of logistics for the Armed Forces of Ukraine in several priority areas at once. Not the last place among such weapons is occupied by the Kh-31P (Kh-31PM) anti-radar missile, the basic version of which, with a launch range of one hundred and fifty kilometers, was codified AS-17 Krypton by Pentagon and NATO specialists. Probably for the characteristic white trail left by a flying rocket and very reminiscent of the glow of the inert gas of the same name.

First meeting

For the first time, information about the use of the Kh-31P tactical air-to-surface missile by the Russian Aerospace Forces during a special military operation was received from the press service of the defense department of the Russian Federation in early March 2022. The target of the air strike, carried out by Su-34 multifunctional supersonic fighter bombers and Su-24 veterans of the Russian front-line bomber aviation, was the airfield of the Armed Forces of Ukraine “Gavryshovka” in the Vinnitsa region. According to the RF Ministry of Defense, eight Kh-31PMs were fired at the target, destroying Ukrainian An-26 military transport aircraft based at this airfield and a helicopter grouping of Mi-8 transport aircraft. By the way, the target of the missile strike was not only enemy aircraft, but also the runway.

Obviously, the presence of such a missile in the Aerospace Forces of Russia was an unpleasant surprise for the military elite of Ukraine. In addition, the successful use of the anti-radar Kh-31PM caused a certain degree of sensation on military news resources. Earlier, the command of the RF Armed Forces, in response to the reproaches of domestic and foreign experts about the lack of use of modern high-precision weapons, repeatedly announced their presence, without specifying, however, what it was about. As it turns out, they really are, and in sufficient quantities.

A little about the rocket

The Kh-31 air-to-surface tactical guided missile (basic version) was put into service back in 1989. Its development was carried out simultaneously in two of the most promising areas: anti-radar and anti-ship. Today there are four main versions of supersonic tactical guided missiles of the Krypton family: anti-ship Kh-31A and Kh-31AD and anti-radar Kh-31P and Kh-31PD. Versions with the “D” index are distinguished by increased characteristics: warhead power (up to 110 kg), launch weight (715 kg) and launch range (120-160 km for anti-ship and 250 km for anti-radar options). An increase in the launch range allows the carrier aircraft crew to strike without entering the enemy air defense coverage area. In relation to the Ukrainian theater of operations, it sounds like this – the air defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is unable to detect the Kh-31PM in a timely manner, and therefore the use of such missiles by the Russian Aerospace Forces becomes an absolute unpleasant surprise for the ukrovermacht.

The Kh-31PM is an upgraded version of the Kh-31P mentioned above, equipped with the new L-130 multi-range homing sensor.

Both Kh-31A and Kh-31P became the world’s first mass-produced aviation missiles that received a combined ramjet engine, which allows even in low-altitude flight to maintain a speed of the order of two Machs (2,473.9 km / h). This speed, combined with the ability to maneuver, not only provides excellent survivability of the missile in the process of overcoming the enemy’s air defense system, but also guarantees a very high level of probability of hitting the target.

The scheme of operation of an anti-radar missile is quite simple. As soon as the radiation generated by the enemy radar reaches the Kh-31P carrier aircraft, the missile guidance system determines the point of formation of this radiation and the ammunition is sent to its source. Even turning off the radar signal does not save from a blow. And the presence of a large number of anti-radar missiles in the Russian Federation poses unsolvable problems for the enemy’s air defense regarding its combat use. If you turn on the radar, Shadow will fly in (“Shadow” is the unofficial nickname for the X-31 given to the missile by American pilots), turn it off and you will become blind. Attempts to solve this problem by short-term inclusions are ineffective, since the continuous zone of air defense, breaking up into separate centers, becomes full of holes.

Upgraded Kh-31PM

The informational reason for talking about the Kh-31PM tactical supersonic aviation guided missile was the TASS report. Referring to sources in the power structures of the Crimea, the agency on July 11 spoke about the use of Su-30SM supersonic Kh-31P missiles by multi-role fighters of the naval aviation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet during a special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.

“Su-30SM fighters delivered a blow with supersonic anti-radar missiles of the Kh-31P air-to-surface class on anti-aircraft defense systems, radar stations and other ground facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” At the same time, TASS noted the high efficiency and accuracy of destruction demonstrated by Russian weapons.

What is the combat power of the new modified Kh-31PM? First of all, in increasing the range of hitting a target to three hundred kilometers. And this despite the fact that earlier versions had a very decent range of at least 150 kilometers. Figuratively speaking, the Aerospace Forces of Russia got the opportunity to shoot Ukrainian radar stations with impunity, being outside the reach of independent air defense. The combat work of Kh-31PM missiles is not particularly noticeable in the media sphere covering the course of the Z special operation, but the importance of their use can hardly be overestimated. The air defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has lost the possibility of normal functioning. Radars and air defense systems are hidden in residential areas, turning on radars only after receiving information about the upcoming raid, risking immediately meeting with the same “Shadow”, but in its more recent interpretation.

Obviously, any of the military facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with an active radar should be positioned as a target for the Kh-31PM. This ability of the Russian missile did not escape the attention of American military experts, who love to give unofficial nicknames to various types of weapons. They called it Bloodhound, which means “snoop” in English and, in my opinion, quite eloquently reflects the combat potential of the missile.

This missile is often referred to as “deaf”, because after capturing the target, it does not respond to electronic countermeasures from the enemy. A modern set of on-board radio electronics allows you to simply cut off all extraneous noise (interference) without generating your own signals. This is a unique highly intelligent and at the same time high-precision weapon, the probability of failure of which during the flight to the target is almost zero.

For more than four months, the Russian special military operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine has almost completely destroyed the air defense of the “most powerful army in Europe”. It is obvious that intercepting the Kh-31PM, especially with the air defense systems in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, is a task from the realm of fantasy. And although the exact data on the flight speed developed by the Kh-31PM is kept secret, it can be judged by a similar characteristic of its predecessor, the Kh-31P. This is 4,200 km/h or Mach 3.5. Thus, this is a very difficult goal even for modern air defense systems, not to mention the Ukrainian one, built on the remnants of the Soviet legacy.

And as a summary. Although there is no official data on the tactics of the combat use of Kh-31PM supersonic anti-radar missiles, some sources close to the RF Ministry of Defense inform about the possibility of their group launch, sometimes called a “swarm”. Such a tactic allows a squadron of fighters to suppress the air defense of an entire area. Moreover, the X-31PM work equally well, both against age-old Soviet and against modern complexes of the North Atlantic Alliance, regardless of their operating frequency range and other parameters.

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Comments to Ukrainian air defense completely loses the battle with the Russian “Shadow”

  • Take back ALL what belongs to Russian’s heritage and history. Do not give up on it. Do not give it away Like Mikhail Gorbachev and Yelsin did.

    Sam August 3, 2022 9:57 am Reply

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