Modernization approach: new aircraft weapons

Upgraded rocket “Vikhr-1”. Photo Concern “Kalashnikov”

New types of weapons of different classes are being developed for the front-line and army aviation of the Russian armed forces. In recent months, the topic of news has repeatedly become missiles of new types, which are the modernization of already known models. Some of these products have already reached use in the troops, while others will end up in arsenals in the foreseeable future.

Guided upgrade

On October 28, the Ministry of Defense published an interesting video from the training of helicopter pilots of one of the formations of the Southern Military District. Attack helicopters Ka-52 “Alligator” for the first time used a modernized version of the guided anti-tank missile “Vikhr-1” at the test site. During the event, more than 30 new types of missiles were used.

The 9K121M Vikhr-M missile system with the 9M127-1 Vikhr-1 missile was developed at the end of the eighties and was intended for installation on attack aircraft and attack helicopters. The complex was officially adopted in 1992, but mass production and implementation failed. The production of missiles and other components was ordered only in 2013. Over the next few years, the army received a large number of Vikhr-1 missiles and carried out rearmament. This weapon was actively used at training grounds and found application in the Syrian operation.


Preparing to fly to the landfill. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

In August, within the framework of the Army-2020 forum, the Kalashnikov Concern presented for the first time a modernized version of the Vikhr-1 product. It was reported that by replacing a number of components, the firing range will be increased from the original 8 to 10 km. At the same time, the missile will retain all its combat qualities and will be able to hit ground, surface or low-speed air targets.

A recent message from the Ministry of Defense indicated the simplicity and ease of use of the upgraded missile. The task of an airplane or helicopter pilot is to find a target on the battlefield. When it enters the scanning area of ​​the on-board television system, auto-tracking is activated. The pilot only has to go to the line of application and launch. Further guidance of the missile is carried out by automation using a laser, the product “flies along the beam.”

The basic version of the Vikhr-1 missile can be used by different launch vehicles. So, in 2017 it was reported that Ka-52 and Mi-28N helicopters used them in Syria. In the course of recent firing, the upgraded complex was used by Ka-52 vehicles. Probably, Mi-brand helicopters will also receive such weapons.

Unmanaged Armored Car

In parallel with the development of the “Whirlwind” complex, serial unguided aircraft missiles are being modernized. The main novelty of recent times is the S-8OFP “Armor-piercer” product. This is another sample of the well-known and time-tested NAR S-8 family, featuring improved performance and new combat capabilities.


Ka-52 launches “Whirlwind-1”. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

The S-8OFP product was developed by NPO Splav, which is part of NPK Tekhmash. The project started several years ago and has now come close to full-fledged operation in the army. In February 2019, it was reported about the successful completion of state tests, as a result of which they began to decide the issue of adopting the rocket into service.

In May of this year, Tekhmash announced the production of a batch of new NARs intended for experimental military operation. The corporation released them at its own expense and was waiting for an order from the Ministry of Defense. At the end of the trial operation, the series is expected to be launched and put into service. These events will take place next year.

The S-8OFP rocket retains the basic features of other products of its family, but differs in several innovations. So, a modern solid fuel engine with increased energy performance is used. Due to it, the firing range was increased to 6 km – against 3-4 km for the latest modifications of the C-8. At the same time, a change in flight characteristics and ballistics requires an update of the missile carrier’s sighting means.


Defeat the training target. Photo Concern “Kalashnikov”

The letters “OFP” indicate the use of a high-explosive fragmentation penetrating warhead. The missile delivers a 9-kg warhead with 2.5 explosives to the target. The hardened body of the warhead is capable of penetrating some obstacles and crushing during an explosion with the formation of fragments. The warhead potential is realized using a dual-mode fuse. It can be triggered when hitting a target or with some delay to detonate a missile inside an object.

“Armor-piercer” retains the dimensions of other missiles of its family, thanks to which it can be used with existing launchers. The carriers of such a missile can be all airplanes and helicopters of frontline and army aviation – from the point of view of using the S-8OFP, it is minimally different from the well-mastered S-8 other modifications.

Increase in caliber

In the context of the S-8OFP missile, another promising project, the Monolith, is often mentioned. This missile is also being developed at NPK Tekhmash and is referred to as a continuation of work on the Armored Carrier. For the first time, they talked about “Monolith” two years ago, in October 2018. In the future, various interesting news appeared, but the product has not yet been accepted into service and is not supplied to the troops.

Modernization approach: new aircraft weapons
Rocket S-8OFP in section. Photo by NPK Tekhmash

The goal of the Monolith project is to create 130 mm guided and unguided rockets. These will be deeply modernized versions of the serial NAR S-13 with a number of new solutions, incl. borrowed from S-8OFP. The performance characteristics and features of such a missile have not yet been disclosed. The main parameters are expected to increase with a corresponding increase in efficiency. An important feature of the project is the simultaneous creation of unified missiles with and without homing.

In the spring of 2019, it was reported that prototype Monolith products would appear within the next 2-3 years. At the end of the year, the development organization announced the readiness of the project for state tests. The reasons for such a drastic change in plans were not specified. Perhaps it was about missiles in different designs. It can be assumed that a simpler uncontrolled version was prepared for testing, and a homing modification will appear only in a few years.

Modernization approach

Army and front-line aviation needs a wide range of various means of destruction of different classes. In service there are many samples of different types, and new ones are being created to replace them. At the same time, we are not always talking about completely new projects, often the development and modernization of existing samples is carried out.


Launch of the “Armor-Piercer” rocket. Photo by NPK Tekhmash

This approach has known and obvious advantages. Industry can use finished products and new components, as well as improve them with modern technology. The result is a high performance sample that meets the requirements, but has a limited cost and is fully compatible with aviation technology.

In the coming years, the modernization approach will again lead to a noticeable renewal of aviation arsenals. The supply of the updated version of the Vikhr-1 guided missile has already begun, and from next year the serial Armor-Piercers will be sent to the troops. The promising “Monolith” will have to wait for now, but as a result of this project, planes and helicopters will immediately receive two new types of weapons with different capabilities. At the same time, in addition to the listed weapons, completely new samples of all main classes are being developed. The future of combat aviation is conducive to optimism.

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