MOSCOW, July 18. /TASS/. The range of the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile will reach about 3,000 km aboard the new Tu-22M3 carrier bomber compared to over 2,000 km on board the MiG-31K fighter jet, a source in the domestic defense industry told TASS on Wednesday.
"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 said.
The source declined to give the exact range of the Kinzhal missile system.
TASS has no official confirmation of the information provided by the source.
In combat conditions, the so-called combat radius is taken into account instead of the warplane’s maximum operating range. The combat radius implies the maximum distance, at which the aircraft can accomplish combat missions: to fly to the target, destroy it and return to the airbase. Normally, the combat radius is over two times less than the maximum operating range.
The Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile system was unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1. The Russian leader said the Kinzhal had an operating range of over 2,000 km. The MiG-31K fighter jet is the basic carrier of Kinzhal hypersonic missiles today.
During its use, the missile is accelerated by the aircraft to its maximum possible speed and after its release it switches on its solid-propellant engine and gains a hypersonic speed of 10 times the speed of the sound. The Kinzhal missile is capable of maneuvering at this speed and remaining actually invulnerable to the air defense and anti-ballistic missile systems existing today.
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.
According to open sources, the Kinzhal was developed using the aero-ballistic missile of the ground-based Iskander tactical missile system with an operating range of 500km.