Russia Has Developed Prototype of Air-to-Ground Hypersonic Missile for Su-57. The new weapons system can reportedly be fitted inside the Su-57s internal weapons bay.
“The enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex have created a prototype of a small-sized air-to-surface hypersonic missile for[internal] deployment on the Su-57 fighter,” a source was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on February 23.
Aminiaturised derivative of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missile has reportedly been completed to the stage of its first prototype, following an announcement by Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation in 2018 that such a weapon was under development.
The Kinzhal entered service in the Russian Armed Forces from March 2018 and is currently deployed by MiG-31K and Tu-22M combat jets. The MiG-31K is a derivative of the MiG-31 heavyweight interceptor – the heaviest aircraft designed for air to air combat in service today – and can carry one missile each.
The Tu-22M is a Russian supersonic medium bomber that can carry at least three of the missiles simultaneously. The missile is prized for its speed of approximately Mach 10, its long 2000km range and high maneuverability and its ability to deliver both conventional and nuclear payloads with precision against a range target from enemy warships to command centers.
While air-launched ballistic missiles are relatively rare, none have yet to be deployed from a fighter-sized aircraft which makes plans to miniaturise the Kinzhal for integration onto Su-57 next-generation fighters potentially revolutionary.
The fighter is expected to be able to carry two of the missiles in its internal weapons bays, which are deeper and larger than those on its American counterpart the F-22 Raptor allowing it to carry high diameter weapons.
When equipped with two Kinzhal missiles, the fighters will still be able to carry two defensive air to air missiles from its smaller additional weapons bays. Combined with the Su-57’s powerful sensors, high endurance, and stealth capabilities, the Kinzhal will allow Russian fighters to pose a serious threat to high-value targets such as airfields and command centers – and are capable of evading all existing air defence systems.
The missile is likely to considerably improve the export potential of the Su-57 should it be offered to foreign clients, and its advanced ship hunting capabilities could lead to greater interest in the fighter from the Russian Navy – which currently appears committed to the older Su-30 for a maritime strike role. The Kinzhal’s speed alone is considered sufficient to tear even the largest warships in half with a single well placed hit, which will provide the Su-57 with an entirely unique capability among next-generation fighters.
There is also speculation that the Su-57 will receive a new air-to-air hypersonic missile, an upgraded variant of the R-37 (K-37/RVV-BD) missile, capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 6 and an estimated operational range of over 300 kilometers, according to Russian defense industry sources.
The Russian Air Force is expected to receive the first batch of serial-produced Sukhoi Su-57 fighter aircraft this year.