Air-Launched Weapons

Russian Aerospace Forces take delivery of 'new' Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile

19 March 2018
A Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile shown under fuselage of a modified MiG-31BM. Source: From a Russian Ministry of Defence video

The Russian Aerospace Forces have taken delivery of the Kinzhal (Dagger) – an air-launched, precision-guided ballistic missile designed to engage ground-based and seaborne targets. Also referred to by its air-to-ground missile code of Kh-47M2, the Kinzhal has been shown being carried by, and launched from, a modified MiG-31BM supersonic interceptor aircraft.

According to Russian industry sources, the Kinzhal is based on the 9M723-1F variant of the 9M723-1 missile – as used by the 9K720 Iskander-M short-range road-mobile ballistic missile system – and modified for air-launch without major changes in its architecture.

The Kinzhal, like its 9M723-1F parent, is a solid propellant motor propelled ballistic missile with a non-separating warhead. The most obvious physical change is the addition of a finned truncated tailcone to the missile’s rear. This has been added to decrease the aerodynamic effects of the missile when carried at high-speed on the aircraft and protects both its control components and motor nozzle from damage when in transit.

To minimise the missile’s radar cross-section (RCS), no extraneous external components are located on its surface other than its two cable ducts, which run from the control/motor nozzle section, over the motor and into to the guidance section. The ducts – seen in a video presentation – are quite prominent in comparison to some seen on the parent missile, the latter far flatter and wider, with smoother transition from the motor body to the maximum height of the duct. The missile’s aerodynamic control surfaces have been revised, their planform slightly different and their aerodynamic surfaces are cleaner. It is reported that the skin of the missile has been covered with a special heat-resistant and radar adsorbing coating to minimise heat effects on it and further lower its RCS, but this cannot be confirmed.

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at

(316 of 1062 words)