On March 1st, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced to the world that Russia developed hypersonic missile technologies the likes of which the world has never seen. While the initial announcement was viewed with skepticism in the West initially, the US and Western nations military have come to realize this is a real development. The new Russia hypersonic missile program remains in steady development.
There are two missiles in development, the Mach-20 capable Avangard, and the Mach-10 capable Kinzhal. This latter missile is capable of being launched from aircraft, and to that end the Russian military has been testing the use of Tupolev Tu-223 strategic bombers as well as the extremely fast MiG-31 as launch platforms for this complex weapons platform.
The trials of the Kinzhal hypersonic complex aboard the Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bomber are needed to check the aircraft’s ability to boost the complex’s missiles, former Commander of Russia’s Long-Range Aviation Mikhail Oparin told TASS on Monday.
The Tu-22M3 aircraft “suits perfectly” for Kinzhal hypersonic missiles’ trials by its mass and volume characteristics, he said.
“The tests are needed to see whether it [the bomber] will be capable of accelerating the missile and to get the results. For long-range aircraft pilots, the missile is sooner of the tactical scope but at the same time it has clear advantages by its capabilities of breaching enemy anti-ballistic missile defenses,” the former commander said.
As the Russian general noted, the Kinzhal is a heavy missile designed precisely for long-range bombers.
“I believe it is speed that matters. The MiG-31 has higher supersonic speed than the Tu-22M3 but now that a possibility has emerged to test the missiles aboard a long-range plane, this has to be done. This will raise the combat potential of the Aerospace Force and add might to it,” the former commander said.
A source in the Russian defense industry earlier told TASS that hypersonic missiles of the Kinzhal complex would be tested aboard the Tu-22M3 strategic bomber.
The Tu-22M (NATO reporting name “Backfire”) is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long range strategic and maritime strike bomber. It was developed in 1969, introduced into service in 1972, and remains in service to this day. It boasts speed capabilities of at least Mach 1.88 (1,110kn / 2,050 km/h) and a 4,200 mile (6,800km) range. The new variant Tu-22M3 and the Tu-22M3M are upgrades to the original design.
The Kinzhal is a hypersonic missile capable of flying at 10 times the speed of sound. It is capable of maneuvering and overcoming existing air-defense systems. Russia’s Kinzhal complex presently comprises six MiG-31BMs, Russia’s fastest fighter jets (indeed the fastest in the world). Each jet can carry one hypersonic missile. The video below begins with a view of two Kinzhal missiles attached to two MiG-31K’s.