This is how Russia is modifying the Kh-101 missiles to make them more lethal against Ukraine

The extraction of resources that a long-duration war entails forces countries in conflict to maximize them and find new ways to take advantage of them. The latest example in this sense is that of the missiles cruise Kh-101widely used by Russia in the invasion of Ukraine, which are being modified to make them more lethal by adding an additional fragmentation warhead.

This second charge, with steel fragments to increase its destructive effect, it is installed at the expense of other capabilities of the weapon. It is not the first air-launched missile that Russia modifies during the conflict, since it had already done so with the Kh-55 and Kh-22but this time he does at the expense of other characteristics of the weapon such as its fuel capacity and, therefore, its range.

The finding comes from images published on social media that show the remains of a Kh-101 in which an explosive warhead can be seen inside the missile and another next to it. According to Defense Express, a Ukrainian security and defense outlet, the missile was shot down by Ukrainian air defenses on Tuesday night.

The first reports that Kh-101 missiles, also known by NATO as AS-23A Kodiak, with double explosive charges appeared on Ukrainian blogs at the end of March. It was then said that the two explosive heads added up to a weight of 800 kilograms compared to 450 for a conventional Kh-101. The second explosive charge, fragmentation, makes the weapon more effective against people and certain types of targets, as well as increase explosion range and damage. It is also useful in cases where accuracy against the target is limited.

The reduction in fuel tank size is necessary to provide space for fragmentation loading. However, this is not a problem for Russia in the Ukraine war. The Kh-101 missiles, with a range of between 3,000 and 4,000 kilometers In their standard configuration, they can attack targets virtually anywhere in Europe when launched from Russian airspace from a bomber Tu-160 either Tu-95MS.

Kh-101.Russian Ministry of Defense.

According to the UK Ministry of Defensethe modified Kh-101s have reduced their range to between 1,500 and 2,000 kilometers, enough to hit targets anywhere in Ukraine. He also notes that this modification makes the Kh-101s noticeably more lethal.

“The Russian Long Range Aviation Command has sought to modify its systems and tactics throughout the conflict to: increase survivability as too many missiles were being intercepted by Ukrainian air defense systems; improve capabilities to have greater effect; and use older missiles as the VKS (Russian Aerospace Forces) had exhausted more modern systems in the early days of the conflict“the British ministry explained in an intelligence update.

Another recent modification that has been seen in the Kh-101 is its ability to launch decoy flares during flighta self-defense capability.

Previously, both the Kh-55 and Kh-22 have also had changes for different purposes during the Ukrainian war. The first, for be used as a decoy and providing false targets to Ukraine after removing its nuclear warhead. The second, a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, replacing its nuclear warhead with cluster bombs.