Russia is going to mount its brand new Kinzhal hypersonic missiles on Tu-22M3 bombers to increase their strike range.
The Mach-10 Capable Kinzhal is an air-to-surface and thus the military has been testing the use of Tu-22M3 strategic bombers and the MiG-31K fighter jet as launch platforms.
On July 18th it was announced that the Tu-22M3 was chosen as the launch platform of the Kinzhal. The range of the missile will be around 3,000 km, compared to the one on the MiG-31K jet of about 2,000, TASS reports. In addition to the range increase, the Tu-22M3 will be capable of carrying several Kinzhal missiles, about which another source in the defense industry earlier told TASS.
The TASS source has said “the Kinzhal is an air-launched missile system and, therefore, it is necessary to look at its range considering the combat radius of its carrier. For the Tu-22M3, aboard which the missile will soon be tested, the hypersonic missile’s target destruction range will equal over 3,000 km [the carrier’s combat radius plus the missile’s range].” The source has refused to give the exact range. There is also no official confirmation of the current information.
The missile is a solid-fueled air-to-surface strike missile and is considered to be highly manoeuvrable with the capability of destroying targets at sea too. With a top speed of Mach 10, it is virtually impossible to be intercepted by any known anti-missile system currently in service or under development. The missile is 8-metre long, 1-metre wide and can carry a conventional or nuclear payload of 480 kg. It is a modified version of the Iskander-M short range ballistic missile, it is also highly maneuverable and can hit targets at up to 500 km distance.
Zeenews India reports that western experts and NATO commanders have doubts about the claims regarding the Kinzhal’s capabilities. This is mainly due to the fact that the rocket it is based off, the Iskander-M reaches hypersonic speed in its terminal phase and it is highly unlikely that it is maneuverable during it.