MOSCOW, July 2. /TASS/. 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 project of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile complex was unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1.
The hypersonic missile flies at more than 10 times the speed of the sound and is capable of maneuvering and overcoming existing and future air defense and anti-ballistic missile defense systems. As of today, the Kinzhal complex comprises the MiG-31K fighter jet capable of carrying one hypersonic missile.
The Tu-22M3 is a long-range hypersonic missile-carrying bomber designed to hit ground and sea targets. It was accepted for service in 1989. Overall, Russia has manufactured about 500 Tu-22M bombers. Work on the aircraft’s new version, the Tu-22M3M, is currently underway. The upgraded version is expected to perform its debut flight in August.