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Raduga Kh-15

NATO: AS-16 Kickback



Forward view of MKB Raduga Kh-15 (AS-16 Kickback) on display in a museum.
Source: George Chernilevsky - © public domain

Soviet Union
Air to ground missile
Entered service
In service
1978 - 1980's
Soviet Union - MKB Raduga
Mid 1980's - 1991?
Soviet Union - Dubna machine-building plant (DMZ)
Number produced
Exact number of missiles produced is unknown. Original nuclear tipped Kh-15 outnumbers the anti-shipping and anti-radiation models.
AS-16 Kickback
NATO reporting name
Alternative designation



The Kh-15 is a supersonic strategic air to ground missile of Soviet origin. It was developed in the late Cold War era as the Soviet counterpart to the American AGM-69 SRAM. In the West it is known under NATO reporting name "AS-16 Kickback". The Kh-15 is a capable missile that is difficult to intercept.


The Kh-15 originated from a protracted design effort that can be tracked back to the late 1960's. The Kh-15 is a large, sleek cylindrical missile with three small fins near the nozzle. To withstand the high airspeed the body is made of titanium alloy. The guideance section and warhead are located in the pointed nose section. The rest of the missile is made up by the solid fuel rocket motor. The original nuclear tipped Kh-15 uses a parabolic high altitude flight path in order to plunge down at high speed on its target. It is unclear whether the anti-radiation and anti-shipping variants use the same parabolic flight path.


The original nuclear tipped Kh-15 uses inertial navigation in order to plunge down on the target area. The anti-radiation variant uses passive radar homing. The anti-shipping variant uses active radar homing for terminal homing and employs inertial navigation at first when used against targets at longer distances.


he Kh-15 is fitted with a 350 kT nuclear warhead. The warhead on the conventional variants reportly weighs 150 kg. With its parabolic flight path the Kh-15 reachs speeds of up to Mach 5, making it the fastest air to ground missile in service. The maximum range is 280 km, but is highly dependent on launch parameters such as altitude and airspeed. Although the flight path is predictable the timeframe and missile speed make it difficult to intercept. The conventional variants are believed to use a more straight flight path with corresponding shorter range of 150 km and lower terminal speed.

Launch platforms

The Kh-15 can be fitted to three types of Soviet bomber aircraft. It is mainly used on the supersonic Tu-22M3 (Backfire-C) strategic and maritime strike bomber. It is able to carry 6 missiles in the MKU-6-1 rotary launcher in its bomb bay. Additionally 4 missiles can be carried on underwing pylons. The Tu-95MS-6 (Bear-H) variant can carry 6 missiles. The Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bomber can carry two MKU-6-1 rotary launchers internally for up to 12 missiles.


The Kh-15 was only used by the USSR. All remaining weapons have been inherited by Russia, which currently is the sole operator. A number of Kh-15 missiles could have been inherited by Ukraine alongside the large number of strategic bomber aircraft. It is believed that these have never been operational in the Ukraine.



Rear view of MKB Raduga Kh-15 (AS-16 Kickback) on display in a museum.
Source: George Chernilevsky - © public domain

Nuclear tipped missile

Known as the Kh-15 or RKV-15, this is the original production model that was introduced in 1988. This variant features inertial navigation and has a 350 kT nuclear warhead. First flight tests carried out in 1980.

Conventional variants

Kh-15A: Anti-shipping missile with active radar homing seeker and conventional warhead. Uses inertial navigation in the early stage. Also known as Kh-15S. Development took place in mid 1980's and small number of these missiles were adopted before collapse of USSR.
Kh-15P: Anti-radiation missile with passive radar homing seeker and conventional warhead. Flight testing began in late 1980's. Development reportedly stopped in 1991.

Facts Kh-15 Kh-15A
Soviet Union
Air to ground missile
4.78 m
0.455 m
0.8 m
1.200 kg
Inertial navigation without any mid course correction
Nuclear warhead
350 kT
Engagement envelope
SRM-160 solid fuel rocket engine
Max speed
Mach 5.0 in terminal phase
50 - 280 km max range depending on launch parameters
Parabolic flight with altitude up to 40 km
Launch envelope
300 m to 22 km altitude
150 to 300 m/s airspeed


Related articles


The AGM-69 Short Range Attack Munition is a American missile with similar size, nuclear warhead and role as the Soviet Kh-15.