'Bear's Newest Claws': Russia Unleashes Bigger, Better Missile on ISIL
09:10 21.11.2015(updated 22:11 21.11.2015)
Experts across the world seem to be impressed by the latest addition to Russia's war arsenal – the Kh-101 cruise missile, which has been spotted in footage released by the Russian Ministry of Defense earlier this week.
The agency has not officially confirmed that the missile was actually launched to hit targets in Syria but the two strategic bombers (the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear and the Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack) also seen in the video were outfitted with the Kh-101.
Russia's long-range bombers, as well as the newest cruise missile made their combat debut on November 17, marking a new phase of the counterterrorism operation in Syria. Moscow has decided to step up its anti-ISIL efforts following the downing of the Russian passenger jet in Egypt. The brutal group took responsibility for the attack, which claimed the lives of all 224 people on board.
The Popular Mechanics praised the Kh-101 for its range, calling it the missile's 'truly astounding feature.'
The Kh-101, outfitted with a conventional payload, is rumored to have a range of up to 6,000 miles and is capable of travelling at a maximum speed of 270 m/s. Its accuracy is reported to be around five to six meters, making the missiles up to three times more accurate than its predecessors.
'The choice of the Kh-101 is an odd one. The Kremlin could have attacked undefended Islamic State targets equally well with older, obsolete missiles. Using the latest, most expensive cruise missiles seems like a waste – unless the real intent of the missile bombardment was to show off the Bear's newest claws,' the media outlet assumed, apparently referring to the Tupolev Tu-95.
In early October, Russia made headlines when the Caspian Fleet launched 26 Kalibr-class cruise missiles against ISIL targets locate over 930 miles away.
'The introduction of Russian long-range aviation, employing an entirely different family of missiles, is a combination of official retribution, publicity, and capability testing,' analyst Michael Kofman noted in an article for the War on the Rocks website.
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