Russian Su-34 fighter bombers deployed in Belarus for joint air drills were spotted armed with Kh-35U cruise missiles in footage released by the Belarusian Ministry of Defense on January 19.
Belarus and Russia launched a series of joint military exercises on January 16. The air drills will be held until February 1 using all of Belarus’ military airfields.
The Kh-35U, which is the latest version of the Kh-35 subsonic cruise missile, was developed by Russia’s Tactical Missiles Corporation. While the original version was just an anti-ship missile, a land-attack capability was added to the new version. This explains why the missile was sent to the joint drills in Belarus, a landlocked country.
The cruise missile navigates towards its target using a GLONASS-aided inertial navigation system. For terminal guidance, the missile is equipped with an active radar seeker.
The missile has a maximum range of 260 kilometers with a speed of no more than Mach 0.85. It can fly as low as four meters before hitting its target. The air launched version is armed with a 550 kg high explosive fragmentation shaped charge warhead.
The Russian military has been using the air and ground launched versions of the Kh-35U to strike high value targets of Kiev forces since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine around a year ago.
Russia and Belarus stepped up military cooperation in the last few months in the face of threats from Ukraine and the NATO. Recently, Kiev have been warning from a large-scale Russian ground offensive from Belarus. However, even the United States does not agree with these claims.
Earlier this week, National Security Council official John Kirby said that the U.S. does not see evidence that Belarus intends to join the Russian special military operation in Ukraine.
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