Russia Working on Extremely Long-Range Cruise Missile for White Swan
The Russian State Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Systems (GosNIIAS) is working on an extremely long-range cruise missile as part of efforts aimed at modernizing the Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber, Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported, citing GosNIIAS' First Deputy of the General Director and Supervisor of Studies Evgeny Fedosov.
The new missile will be fitted onto the Tu-160M, an upgrade of the largest and heaviest supersonic aircraft ever built. The modernized version of the White Swan, as the plane has become known, is expected to enter service in the early 2020s.
Fedosov said that the technical characteristics of the new missile are classified, but added that a previous version of the weapon, which carries a conventional payload, has a range of up to 3,000 kilometers (more than 1,864 miles). The new version is expected to have "a significantly longer" range.
The development of the new missile appears to reflect a broader trend in Russia's approach to warfare which has seen the Russian Armed Forces place a greater emphasis on long-range weapons systems designed to counterbalance air defenses of a potential opponent.
"If it is a matter of a strategic nuclear strike, then at least one missile will always reach its target. It will be enough," Fedosov said.
The Tu-160 is capable of carrying Raduga Kh-55SM, Kh-101, Kh-102 or Kh-555 cruise missiles and Raduga Kh-15 short-range nuclear missiles. The Kh-101 is believed to have a maximum range of 5,500 kilometers (over 3,400 miles), while the aircraft itself has a maximum range of 12,300 km (7,643 miles) without refueling.
Defense analyst Dave Majumdar described the Tu-160M as "practically a new aircraft under the hood." The upgrade will see 60 percent of the plane's equipment replaced with top-end gear, including hypersonic missiles, improved avionics and electronics.
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