Russia has recently tested a new air-launched hypersonic missile, TASS news agency reported citing a source in the military-industrial complex.
According to the source, the new missile is being developed for a modified version of the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) Tu-22M3M strategic bomber aircraft.
“Recently, a new hypersonic missile was tested on the Tu-22M3. The missile will be part of the armament range of the upgraded Tu-22M3M along with a number of other latest aviation weapons,” the source was quoted as saying.
The work on the new missile reportedly began several years ago and the tests are expected to be completed simultaneously with the work on the upgraded Tu-22M3M bomber.
The source clarified that this missile does not belong to the line of X-32 (Kh-32) supersonic missiles, noting that it is “completely different.” The source reportedly did not name the characteristics of the new missile.
TASS report added that it does not have official confirmation of the information provided by the source.
Russian Hypersonic Missiles
Russia has already developed two types of air-launched hypersonic missiles; the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“dagger”) nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) and another hypersonic missile developed for the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
The Kinzhal airborne system that consists of a MiG-31K aircraft as a delivery vehicle and the Kh-47M2 hypersonic missile. The Kinzhal missile is thought to be the airborne version of the ground-launched Iskander tactical missile system.
The missile developed for the Su-57 is a small-sized air-to-surface weapon which can be placed in the aircraft’s internal weapons bay. This missile reportedly has ‘characteristics’ similar to the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ALBM.
Tu-22M3M is an upgraded variant of Russian Air Force’s Tu-22M3 strategic bomber with a host of modifications and latest equipment. According to its manufacturer Tupolev, the modernization has significantly expanded the combat potential of the aircraft.
The new aircraft has upgraded avionics such as an NV-45 radar, SVP-24-22 bombsights and an improved cockpit. Replacing 80% of avionics allowed to improve the accuracy of navigation and the level of automation of aircraft control, to simplify its maintenance and preflight preparation.
The bomber has the ability to fire a variety of precision air-to-surface weapons. It can reportedly carry four Kh-47M2 Kinzhal nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missiles or three Kh-32 long-range anti-ship missiles.
The first Tu-22M3M aircraft took off for the first time on December 28, 2018.