New Weapons Highlight T-50 Strike Role
e-News® | The NEWS Company…MOSCOW, Sept.03, 2015 : Three new or derivative weapons were unveiled at the MAKS show last week by Tactical Missiles Corporation (TMC), all designed specifically to fit the internal weapon bays of the Sukhoi T-50 stealth fighter. The T-50 has two large tandem centerline bays for medium-to-large weapons and two outboard bays for short-range air-to-air missiles.
TMC’s Grom (Thunder) air-to-surface weapon is all-new, featuring sharp-edged folding swept wings and folding tails. So far, two versions have been identified: Grom-1, with a rocket engine, and the gliding Grom-2 with a larger warhead. The initial versions use satellite-inertial guidance, but it is likely that future models will incorporate precision guidance; the mock-ups shown at MAKS – including one under a MiG-29 on static display – appeared to have dielectric nose radomes, suggesting an anti-radar role. Weight and range details were not disclosed.
The Kh-59MK2 cruise missile bears little external resemblance to the earlier Kh-59 (AS-18 Kazoo), which is a conventional glide bomb with an externally mounted Saturn 36MT turbofan engine, but uses the same powerplant, warhead and guidance system. It has a redesigned airframe to reduce its radar signature and fit in the Sukhoi T-50’s weapon bays. The 1,700-lb. weapon has a design range of up to 160 nm.
The Kh-59MK2 features a stealth-contoured nose with short, swept horizontal chines, which avoids a radar cross-section (RCS) spike from a rounded nose but takes up less space in the length-limited (4.2-meter-long) T-50 bays than a pointed or wedge nose. Flat sides result in strong RCS spikes at 90-deg. to the missile’s axis, but if the weapon is at low altitude these are not exploitable by an airborne radar, because a radar at that position cannot detect any Doppler signal from the missile. The flush inlet is located under the body.
A third, modified weapon was the Kh-58UShKE-IIR (imaging infrared). The basic Kh-58UShKE, seen at previous MAKS shows, is a modernized, shortened, folding-wing version of the veteran Mach 4 Kh-58 (AS-11 Kilter). The new model adds two IIR sensors under the forebody, allowing the weapon to engage emitters that have been shut down.
The new weapons underscore the fact that the T-50 cannot be regarded as an analog to the Lockheed Martin F-22. It is designed for both air-to-air and air-to-surface missions, with the ability to carry four large weapons internally (versus two 1,000-lb. bombs on the F-22) as well as having provision for Kh-31 anti-radar missiles under the wings.