As more modern missiles such as the Kalibr or Kh-101 were running short the Russian Air Force began to utilise Kh-22 missiles more often.
Russia has launched a new missile attack on Ukrainian territory, with 6 Kalibrs fired from corvettes in the Black Sea and most notably 10 Kh-22 missiles launched simultaneously from strategic bombers Tu-22M3.
It is known that these 16 missiles hit infrastructure in Kyiv, Lviv and Mykolaiv regions. Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk informed about this missile strike.
In the latest incident, the Russian Air Force set a record for the use of Kh-22 missiles – this is the first known case when a Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber fired 10 cruise missiles of the same type in the ongoing war.
Military experts say that such frequency in the use of Kh-22 may indicate that the Russian Army is facing a shortage of stockpiles for more modern high-precision missiles such as Kalibr, Kh-101 or Kh-555 etc.
That is why the Russians randomly fired large numbers of their classic soviet era Kh-22 cruise missiles, which can hardly be called high-precision weapons, and are even notorious for being received the nickname “blind rocket”.
The conventional radar detector of the Kh-22 missile was commented to “see” extremely poorly ground objects, only capable of capturing large-sized targets such as apartment buildings or “industrial objects” or big ship.
Furthermore, how successfully the Kh-22 missile’s radar “sees” its target is highly dependent on the how much distance it has to travel to hit, while the manufacturer claims the maximum range of Kh-22 is about 500 kilometers.
The Russian military has also upgraded the Kh-22 missile using an inertial guidance system. But in this case, the accuracy of the missile when hitting the target is a square of side 10 x 10 m, suitable only for nuclear blows.
However, the media reported that the interception of the Kh-22 missile is extremely difficult due to its relatively complicated trajectory, because this was originally a weapon intended for attacking aircraft carrier battle groups.
After launch, Kh-22 fly to an altitude of 22.5 km and reach speeds of up to Mach 3.5 – 4, and at a distance of 60 km from the object, before striking, it turns off its engines and deliver a hit to the target at a 60-degree angle while maintaining a speed of Mach 2.
In theory, modern air defense complexes such as S-300PMU-2 or Buk-M2 and above are capable of destroying Kh-22 in the last cycle, but unfortunately Ukraine is only in service with the S- 300PT/PS and Buk-M1 are obsolete.
However, on May 30, the Ukrainian Air Force recorded the first victory of shooting down a Kh-22 through an R-27 missile launched from a Su-27 fighter. This is a unique form of combat that helps to limit the disadvantages of ground-based air defense complexes.
With the feature that both the aircraft carrying the launcher and the projectile itself maintain a high altitude for most of the journey, if detected from afar, it is possible to bring the fighter up to meet the missile’s flight path to shoot down.
In the future, when the Ukrainian air defense forces will equipped with complexes such as Germany’s IRIS-T or MEADS, perhaps everything will become much simpler.