T-50 Learnt How to Destroy Ships

Translated by Ollie Richardson



The Russian T-50 fighter of the fifth generation will become a “ship killer”. The latest tactical anti-ship KH-35UE cruise missile is included in its composition of arms. It is capable of destroying any sea target — from a small landing boat to an aircraft carrier, and also the land targets: fortifications, storages, warehouses, and even military equipment. At the same time it does not fear radio-electronic interference and antiaircraft missiles. According to experts, thanks to the innovation of the T-50 it won’t just be a fighter jet, but a multipurpose fighting machine.

As was told to “Izvestia” by the Tactical Missiles Corporation, testing of KH-35UE as a component of the T-50’s onboard arms is complete. The missile is already used on carrier-based fighters MiG-29К/KUBR and Ka-52 assault helicopters.

“We checked the compatibility of the onboard equipment of the fighter jet with the missile,” reported the chief designer of the missile system Nikolay Vasilev to “Izvestia”. “The missile is included in the composition of the onboard arms of the jet.”

However, according to Nikolay Vasilev, because of its dimensions the missile will be placed not in the weapon bays of the stealth fighter, but on external suspension brackets.

The development of the KH-35 missile (NATO name AS-20 Kayak) began in 1982 in response to the emergence of the French MM38 Exocet missile. These missiles became famous during the Falklands War between Argentina and Great Britain. At the time, with their help the British “Sheffield” destroyer was sunk, the container ship, and seriously damaged the “Glamorgan” destroyer. In the Russian Navy the KH-35 became a self-defense weapon on all types of ships with a displacement from 5,000 tons.

The upgraded KH-35UE received the “U” index — universal. Its carriers became not only ships, but also jets, helicopters, and coastal missile systems. The new body has folding wings and a truncated air inlet. Its starting weight is 550 kg. From this 145 kg is the combat unit. Its flight speed is 300 m/s. It’s range of application is 260 km.

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A dual-band seeker brings the missile to the target. The first mode of its work — active. The missile in a fraction of a second enables the targeting system to search for targets. The second and the main mode — passive. In this mode the missile doesn’t scan the space, but catches the pulses that are emitted by radars of the enemy’s ships. Because of which the KH-35UE remains absolutely invisible to radar stations until the last moment. In addition, it “sees” not only ships and sea transport, but also storage tanks, port objects, and land armored vehicles.

“Integration of the KH-35UE missile into the composition of the onboard arms of the T-50 fighter jet will allow it to completely replace the missiles of the previous generations,” said the editor of the Arms Export magazine Andrey Frolov to “Izvestia”.  “The use in its arms of the new cruise missiles will make the T-50 a multipurpose assault fighter capable of fighting against air targets, as well as with sea and coastal ones.

The KH-35UE to some extent is similar to the western development: the aircraft version of the French AM-39 Exocet and American AGM-84 Harpoon. The western analogs were repeatedly used in military conflicts. KH-35UE hasn’t been used in combat. Nevertheless, comparing the characteristics allows to consider that the KH-35UE missile will be more effective than its competitors. At least because they have no passive mode of targeting.

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