Kh-35 Anti Ship Cruise Missiles Of Russia-SS-N-25 Switchblade

Kh-35 is a soviet turbojet subsonic cruise anti ship missile. The same missile can also be launched from helicopters, surface ships and coastal defence batteries with the help of a rocket booster.

Kh-35 Anti Ship Cruise Missiles

Initial development of the Kh-35 anti-ship missile began back in 1977. Its development received formal go ahead only in 1983-1984. It was planned to be a Soviet answer to emerging Western anti-ship missiles, such as French Exocet, Franco-Italian OTOMAT, and US Harpoon. Test launches began in 1985. Development was rather protracted due to numerous failed launches and problems with the guidance system.

The Kh-35 was first publicly displayed in 1992 and was proposed for export customers. Though at the time it was still not ready for production. In the early 1990s, after collapse of the Soviet Union, development was further delayed due to funding problems. However in 1994 India ordered these missiles in the downgraded Kh-35E export form. This Indian order allowed to finish development and start production of the missile.

Deliveries to the Indian Navy commenced in 1996. The Kh-35 missile was adopted by the Russian navy only in 2003, alongside with Uran (Uranus) shipborne anti-ship missile system, which used these missiles. In 2004 Russian Navy adopted a Bal coastal defense missile system, which also used the Kh-35s.

In 2005 development of an air-launched version of the Kh-35 was completed, which was originally intended for Indian Il-38SD maritime patrol aircraft. Since then the air-launched versions are also widely used by the Russian military. In 2011 a container-based anti-ship missile system with Kh-35 missiles was revealed. Other export operators of the Kh-35 are Algeria, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

The Kh-35 became a successor to a P-15 Termit anti-ship cruise missile (Western reporting name SS-N-2 Styx). It has broadly similar performance to that of the French Exocet and Franco-Italian OTOMAT. Though it looses in terms of range and destructive power to the US Harpoon.

The Kh-35 is much simpler to produce than P-800 Oniks, Kalibr of the new Tsyrkon (Zyrconium) hypersonic anti-ship missile, that is currently being developed. This Russian anti-ship missile is a relatively inexpensive weapon. It costs around $500 000 per missile.

The Kh-35 carries a 145 kg High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) warhead. It was designed to pierce horizontally through the bulkheads and compartments prior to exploding inside the ship. This missile was designed to defeat vessels with a displacement of up to 5 000 t. So it should be efficient against frigates and smaller destroyers. The Kh-35 also has a secondary capability against ground targets. There was planned a nuclear-tipped variant of the Kh-35, however it seems that this missile was never developed.

The Kh-35 has inertial navigation system with active radar homing on the terminal stage of its flight. This missile has a maximum altitude of 5 km. Though typically it travels 10-15 meters above the surface. The radar seeker has a lock-on range of 20 km and guides the missile onto its target. In the terminal stage of the flight the missile descends to 3-5 meters above the surface in order to overcome hostile defense systems.

This missile travels at subsonic speed of 950-1 010 km/h. It is estimated that due to its subsonic speed that anti-ship missile can be intercepted rather easily, especially by advanced defense system. The Kh-35 is efficient out to a Sea State 6.

Missiles deployed on ships and used by coastal defense missile systems are fitted with booster motors. However In most cases the air-launched Kh-35 missiles do not have the booster motor.

Kh-35 Variants

Kh-35E is a downgraded export version. It was the first mass produced version of the Kh-35. This missile can be deployed on ships, or on land-based coastal defense systems. In 1994 India ordered these missiles. Production commenced in 1996. Deliveries to India began during the same year.

Kh-35EV is a modified version of the Kh-35 with some modifications intended for Vietnamese navy.

KCT-15 is a Vietnamese license-produced version of the Kh-35E.

Kh-35 is version produced for the Russian military. This missile has improved performance over the Kh-35E. It was adopted in 2003. So basically the Kh-35 appeared later than its downgraded export version.

Uran (Uranus) is shipborne anti-ship missile system, which uses Kh-35 missiles. The missiles used by this system are also referred as 3M24. Western reporting name of this system is SS-N-25, or Switchblade. It was adopted by the Russian navy in 2003. It became a successor to the P-15 Termit anti-ship cruise missile (Western reporting name SS-N-2 Styx). Due to the relatively light weight of the missiles the Uran system can be carried even by missile cutters. Missiles are launched from cylindrical containers. These containers are fixed in 35° inclination. Packs of 2 or 4 containers are used, depending on the vessel. These containers can be reloaded.

Uran-E is an export version of the Uran, which uses downgraded Kh-35E missiles. These missiles are also referred as 3M24E. In 1994 India ordered this anti-ship missile system. It was delivered to India in 1996 and installed on Delhi class destroyers. The lead ship of the Delhi class was commissioned with the Indian Navy in 1997.

Uran-EV is an export version of the Uran for the Vietnamese navy with some modifications to suit local operational requirements. It uses Kh-35EV missiles.

KCT-15 is a Vietnamese anti-ship missile. In 2011-2012 Vietnam was negotiating local production of Uran anti-ship missile system, which is used on some of its warships. In 2015 the KCT-15 was first publicly revealed. In 2016 it was announced that Vietnam launches production of these anti-ship missiles.

Kh-35U is an improved anti-ship cruise missile, which can be carried by both surface and air platforms, as well as watercraft. Letter “U” in the designation stands for Unified. It first appeared in 2009 and by 2011 this missile was still tested. It was adopted in around 2015. It is a current production version of the Kh-35. It has twice more powerful engine and carries more fuel.

This gives this missile a range of up to 260 km. That’s twice the range of the baseline Kh-35. This missile has a maximum altitude of 10 km. The Kh-35U also has improved guidance systems with GLONASS satellite navigation update and a more sensitive seeker with a lock-on range of 50 km. This missile is capable of striking ships, as well as land targets.

Among other platforms the Kh-35U is carried by numerous Russian aircraft, including Su-34 long-range interdictors, Su-35S multi-role fighters, and even Tu-95 strategic bombers. In its air-launched form it has a Western reporting name AS-20 or Kayak. The air-launched missile is shorter and lighter. In most cases it does not have the booster motor. It has a secondary capability against ground targets.

Kh-35UE is a downgraded export version of the Kh-35U. It appeared in 2009. This missile has a launch weight 670 kg. Its air-launched version is shorter (3.85 m long) and weights 550 kg.

Kh-35V is a version carried and launched by helicopters. It can be carried by shipborne helicopters, such as a Kamov Ka-52K Katran attack helicopter or Ka-27 series naval helicopters. This missile weights 610 kg, though it has the same warhead.

Neptun (Neptune) is a Ukrainian version of the Kh-35. Ukraine could have all the technical documentation for the Kh-35 missile. Furthermore Ukraine was producing engines and some other components of the Kh-35. This Ukrainian missile was first announced in 2013. First examples were reportedly completed and tested in 2016. This missile is still being developed. In terms of performance it is generally similar to the Kh-35U, but has a longer body, different booster, and some other modifications. This missile is planned to be carried and launched from naval, land and air platforms.

Kumsong 3 (Venus 3) is a North Korean missile generally similar to the Kh-35U. This missile was first observed in 2014. Initially it was thought that North Koreans acquired the Russian Kh-35E, or Kh-35UE missiles. However after close examination it appeared that the North Korean missile has a number of differences and resembles a Ukrainian Neptun instead, which is currently being developed.

The Kumsong 3 has a longer body, different booster, as well as some other modifications. This missile possibly has an active radar homing on the terminal stage with infrared terminal seeker. The Kumsong 3 made its first apparent test launch in 2015 and reportedly demonstrated a range of 200 km. In 2017, during another test launch, the Kumsong 3 demonstrated a range of 240 km. In terms of performance the Kumsong 3 is generally similar to the Russian Kh-35U. This anti-ship missile is carried by vessels and land-based coastal defense missile systems.

Bal is a Russian land-based coastal defense missile system, which uses Kh-35 missiles. Its Western reporting name is SSC-6 or Sennight. The launcher vehicle is based on an MZKT-7930 heavy high mobility chassis with 8×8 configuration and carries 8 of these containerized anti-ship cruise missiles. This coastal defense missile system was adopted by the Russian military in 2004. Bal-E is a downgraded export version. Initially it was offered with Kh-35E missiles, until production switched to more capable Kh-35UE missiles.

Container-based anti-ship missile system. It was first publicly revealed in 2011. This system is based in a standard 20″ shipping container. It includes 4 containerized launchers with Kh-35 missiles, as well as targeting equipment. It is being proposed for export customers.

Rubezh-ME is a coastal defense missile system. It was designed specially for export. A launcher vehicle is based on KamAZ 8×8 military truck chassis and carries 4 Kh-35UE missiles. It was first publicly revealed in 2019. It can be seen as a lighter, less expensive, but less capable alternative to the Bal.

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