Revealing the secrets of the Russian aircraft factory, the Kh-55 and Kh-59 missiles

14 December 2023 10 minutes Author: Cyber Witcher

Smolensk Aviation Plant: Rocket Production Center

The article is devoted to the investigation of the activities of the Smolensk Aviation Plant, which is part of the corporation “Takticheskoe Raketnoe Vooruzhenie” together with the “Raduga” design bureau. The plant produces Kh-55 and Kh-59 missiles, as well as small aircraft for training Russian pilots. The article reveals how the plant works, its location, connections with the Czech Republic and some aspects of its financial activities. The article also considers various aspects of the activity of the Smolensk Aviation Plant. Its structure, management staff, as well as the financial condition of the plant in recent years are described.

This detailed investigation provides a unique contribution to the understanding of important elements of the military industry and its impact on international relations, especially in the context of contemporary geopolitical tensions. In this article, you will find an in-depth investigation that reveals important aspects of the operations of one of the key plants in the Russian defense industry. The article covers the historical context, contemporary operations, and international connections of this plant, and analyzes its impact on international security and defense policy. You will also get an idea of the impact of geopolitical events on the plant’s operations.

SmAZ — from folding furniture to Kh-55 missiles

Smolensk Aviation Plant is a part of the corporation “Takticheskoe Raketnoe Vooruzhenie”, together with the “Raduga” design bureau. SmAZ is a manufacturer of Kh-55, Kh-59 missiles and small aircraft on which Russian pilots are trained.

In the industrial zone on the northern outskirts of the city of Smolensk, there are buildings with clean plastic facades. Behind the fence are the huge hangars they manufacture, folding picnic furniture, fishing camp chairs and “souvenir badges”. But such trifles are rather a hobby of Russian companies – the Smolensk Aviation Plant is known for its X-55 and X-59 killer missiles. An airplane was built there, and Russian pilots are studying it.

In the article dated September 15, 2022, at the international military-technical forum “Army-2022”, a project was presented for the civilian heat energy market — a steam-plasma burner device with intra-cycle gasification of fuel. Moreover, the patent for the product was obtained by scientists of the university that was involved in its development. Among other things, SmAZ makes furniture for picnics, chairs for fishermen and souvenir products.

The location of the plant is Smolensk, str. Frunze 74, building #63. There are planes nearbyлітаки

On October 2, 2023, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine reported that attack drones attacked this Russian factory — 3 out of 4 launched drones disrupted the production process of Kh-59 missiles.

Drones manufactured by SmAZ

“Bee” is an unmanned aerial vehicle for the “Stroy-P” reconnaissance complex, aimed at Russian border guards. The flight range is 60 km, the speed is 180 km/h, and the duration is 2 hours.

A sample of the “Bee” drone. Source: Russian publications

There is another type of UAV, the name of which has not been identified at the moment, but it is known that SmAZ from JSC “Tactical Rocket Arms Corporation”, which includes the plant, and the design bureau “Modern Aviation Technologies” are developers of an unmanned cargo-passenger flying vehicle of vertical take-off and landing of urban air mobility. This drone was presented at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon. Flight range — 90 km, cruising speed — 180 km/h, flight duration — 50 minutes, payload — 270 kg.

Missiles manufactured by SmAZ

But as we wrote earlier, the Smolensk Aviation Plant, in addition to manufacturing drones and folding chairs, is engaged in the production of Kh-55 and Kh-59 missiles, which are used by Russia to attack Ukraine.

— Х-55 —

AS-15 Kent missile under NATO codification

Strategic aviation “winged” missile. It was created back in the 1970s in the Soviet Union. This missile was also made at the Raduga enterprise, which currently orders the Kh-55 from the Smolensk Aircraft Plant.

— Х-59 —

AS-13 Kingbolt under NATO codification

Air-to-ground guided missile. Kh-59 missiles are used in Russian aviation and can be installed on various military aircraft, such as Su-24, Su-27, MiG-29, Tu-95 and others. There are several modifications of the Kh-59 missile, each of which can have different characteristics and capabilities.

The developer of these missiles is the same MKB “Raduga”. Engines for Kh-59 “winged” missiles are produced at the production facilities of the former Rybinsk engine-building plant (JSC Rybinski motors), which in 2001, as a result of a merger with JSC A. Lyulka-Saturn, became a part of the newly created PJSC Naukovo-produktionsne association “Saturn”.

Kh-59M missiles are equipped with navigation devices of the GLONASS/GPS system. Receivers of the Russian GLONASS system have low resistance to intentional jamming and are subject to radio electronic suppression in combat conditions. X-59 missiles can use printed circuit boards of satellite navigation signal receiver units in foreign-made satellite navigation systems. The Kh-59 missiles, the wreckage of which was found in Ukraine, contained electronic components of foreign manufacturers from the USA and Europe, which were manufactured in the period 2014-2020.

July 19, 2023 — shelling of Odeshchyna

On the night of July 19, 2023, the Russians struck Odesa with Kh22, Kh59, Onyx missiles, as well as Shahed-136 drones. The Russians launched the Kh-59 missile from the Su-35 fighter jet from the Black Sea. Air defense forces of Ukraine shot it down on the approach to the shore. Grain and oil terminals were hit. Tanks and loading equipment were damaged. As a result of falling drone debris, at least six residents of Odesa were injured, including one child.

August 30, 2023 — attack on Kyiv

During one of the most massive shelling of the capital, the Russians used Kh-55 missiles in combination with other missiles (Kh-101/555) and Shaheds. A total of 44 air targets were recorded in the sky of Ukraine. Most flew to Kyiv. In one of the districts of the capital, fragments of the rocket fell on the territory of the enterprise, and a fire started. Two security guards of the enterprise were killed. It is also known about three wounded.

Falling debris was recorded in the Shevchenkiv district of Kyiv on August 30, 2023. Photo: Daryna Kolomiets / Society.

September 17, 2023 — a strike on Odeshchyna

10 Kh-101/Kh-555 and Kh-55 air-based missiles were fired from 9 Tu-95ms strategic aircraft from the Engels region. The main target of the strike was Odesa. It is known that rockets hit the territory of a civilian agricultural enterprise.

Airplanes for training Russian pilots from SmAZ

In addition to rockets, the Smolensk Aviation Plant also produces airplanes. For example, the Yak-18T is a Soviet four-seater aircraft developed by the design bureau named after A.S. Yakovlev in the 1960s. This aircraft is one of the modifications of the original Yak-18, which was produced after the Second World War. It is still used for training pilots, as well as as a sports and tourist aircraft.

The Yak-18T aircraft is also used in Ukraine. It is popular among aviation enthusiasts. Photo: Kharkiv Aeroclub V.S. Gryzodubova

The SM-2000 light aircraft was also created on the basis of the Yak-18T aircraft. there are options for passengers and training. The SM-92T turboprop aircraft is an aircraft developed in Russia.

It is known for its ability to take off and land at short distances and small airfields. This is a modification of the SM-92finist aircraft, created by analogy with the Yak-12. The Turbo-Finist is a versatile single-engine aircraft that can be used for a variety of missions including passenger transport, cargo, agricultural work, medical evacuation, patrolling and more.

SM-92T “Turbo-Finist”. Exhibition sample. Photo: Jozef Tóth

The Smolensk Aviation Plant also produces an earlier version of this aircraft – the SM-92. It has a piston engine and is slightly slower.

Reconnaissance, military aircraft – M-55 “Geofizika”. It is also produced at SmAZ. This is an aircraft developed in the Soviet Union, in the design bureau of Mykola Rostislavovich Mil (OKB Mil). This aircraft is designed for atmospheric research and reconnaissance at high altitudes. The M-55 can fly at altitudes of up to 21,000 meters and is used for scientific tasks, including atmospheric monitoring and reconnaissance.

Each of these compact aircraft plays its role in the military sphere of the Russian Federation, using and adapting their functions: from pilot training to reconnaissance missions and cargo transportation.

A branch in Prague and an increase in the number of employees

The Smolensk Aviation Plant is part of the Russian state corporation “Takticheskoye Raketnoye Vooruzhenie”. The same corporation includes the design bureau for the development of “winged” missiles “Raduga”, which is the main customer for the production of missiles at the Smolensk Aircraft Plant.

In 2010, the SmAz plant, together with the aircraft manufacturer PRAGUE Avia, created a company in the Czech Republic – CONSUL group of companies s.r.o. If in 2022 sanctions were imposed on the Smolensk Aviation Plant by the USA, European countries, Canada and Japan due to the fact that the plant is part of the defense and industrial base of the Russian Federation and manufactures weapons, then no such sanctions were found on the Czech branch.

Until 2025, SmAZ has been contracted by orders within the framework of the tasks of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. The main customer is their parent corporation — “Takticheskoe raketnoe vooruzhennie” (“Takticheskoe raketnoe vooruzhennie”). In connection with the increase in the portfolio of orders, by 2024 the plant plans to increase the number of employees — from 2,000 to 4,300 people.

Neither the factory nor the corporation has submitted reports since 2016, so it is not possible to verify the exact number of employees. But it is known that by the middle of November 2022, 120 vacancies from 18 directions were opened – the most wanted were turners, locksmiths, milling workers.

Financial review of the Smolensk plant

According to the volume of purchases in rubles carried out by the plant from 2013 to November 2022, the volume of purchases decreased in rubles. The graph shows purchases in millions of rubles according to procurement form 222-Ф3.

The general director, Andrei Mikhailovich Toporkov, reported that for 2021 the plant made deductions to the budgets of various levels in the amount of ~13.6 million dollars, including 4.5 million dollars to the budget of the Smolensk region. In 8 months of 2022, the plant paid taxes in the amount of 26 million dollars, of which the budget of the Smolensk region received ~2.6 million dollars. Probably, if we proceed from the proportion of payment of tax obligations for 2021, it turns out that in 8 months the plant could make a sale from 131 million to 174 million dollars.

The volume of profit from the sale of the plant’s products in 2021 amounted to 86.9 million dollars, according to the results of 2022, it is planned to increase the profit by 60% to ~145 million dollars. In 2023 – up to ~325 million dollars, in 2024 – up to ~356 million dollars.

By 2024, the plant’s net profit is planned to grow gradually to ~$36 million, compared to $3.4 million in 2021. There is a government order until 2030. Employees are given allowances for overtime work. They offer to work on weekends and holidays. In August 2022, SmAZ received from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation a contract for the production of air-to-ship missiles at the “Army-2022” exhibition. According to the specification, it can be a missile of the Kh-59MK / Kh-59A modification.

The information was taken from open sources “Molfar”

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