The unexpected news that Russia will begin mass production of the Kh-50 cruise missile this year has attracted great attention from the international press.

This is a big surprise, because the Kh-50 cruise missile project mainly exists “on paper”, and even the Russian press rarely mentions this weapon. The Kh-50 can be called a “simplified version” of the Kh-101 missile, which in theory would allow for production in larger numbers because of the consumption of less resources.

Currently, there is not enough objective data to allow experts to estimate exactly how many Kh-50 missiles will be produced by Russia in a month, but it should be noted that each Kh-101 has an estimated cost of 13 million USD, which means that it cannot be produced much and quickly. In December 2017, the Russian press revealed that they were developing the Kh-50 Orion missile. This project was conducted as a sequel to the KH-SD program, which was suspended in the 1990s.

This missile is also known as Izdelie 715 in some Russian documents. A few features have been announced – length is 6 meters, weight is 1,600 kg, range is 1,500 km, cruising speed is 700 km/h and maximum is up to 950 km/h. The warhead mass of the Kh-50 missile is not disclosed, but Russia has stated that it plans to equip it with two types of warheads – BS-715P “penetrating” to destroy solid objects, or BS-715K for large area destruction.

Russian media also emphasized the similarity in appearance between Kh-50 and Kh-101 missiles. Both missiles share “stealth technology”. Between 2018 and early 2023, there is no information in the open sources about the Kh-50 cruise missile project. In reports about the test taking place in 2021, the Russian press said that the Izdelie 715 missile was tested as part of the modernization of the Tu-22M3M bomber.

In February 2023, the Russians “fired” a cruise missile codenamed Izdelie 720, but its basic characteristics were not disclosed. Another interesting point is that the Kh-50 can be used for all types of strategic bombers of the Russian Federation – Tu-22M3, Tu-95MS and Tu-160. For Tu-22M3, the declared combat load is up to 8 Kh-50 missiles, of which 2 are in the external hard point, 6 in the internal bomb bay. It is noteworthy that the Tu-95MS is capable of carrying up to 14 Kh-50 missiles, of which 6 are located in the weapon compartment. As for the Tu-160, it carries 12 Kh-50 missiles.


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