On the Tu-22M3M, the refueling probe has been returned, so its range will be increased to 7,000 km
Destroying the US Navy CSG is not a simple task. First of all, the range of the Tomahawk BGM-109B anti-ship missile is 600 km, and the aircraft carrier-based fighter is 700 km.
Second, American warships are equipped with a highly effective Aegis defense system. The SM-3 standard interceptor missile is capable of shooting down not only ballistic missiles but also satellites. So what does Russia have in hand?
The first is the Zircon hypersonic cruise anti-ship missile, designed to replace obsolete Granite. The missile has yet to be put into service, so its range data has not been confirmed. At some sources its range is 400 km, while it is reported that the Zircon even reaches 1,000 km, but perhaps 600 km is the most accurate. At hypersonic speed, the Zircon must pass through enemy missile defenses “like a red hot knife through butter”.
But there is a problem, the Russian navy does not have enough surface ships to pose a threat, including nuclear cruisers like Peter the Great and Admiral Nakhimov, or Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft battlecruiser and Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates. Neither ship can reach the missile’s range without being counterattacked.
The hope of destroying the aircraft carrier is placed in promising multipurpose nuclear submarines. These are the Yasen and Anteys, as well as the Husky, designed to secretly approach and launch the missile strike. The Zircon missile is currently being tested successfully on the K-560 Severodvinsk submarine under Project 885 Yasen.
Air-launched anti-ship missiles offer more opportunities to destroy the CSG, and Russia has a lot to choose from, especially as it is deeply modernizing their strategic missile-carrying bombers to the Tu-22M3M standard. On the Tu-22M3M, the refueling probe has been returned, so its range will be increased to 7,000 km. Even more important is the inclusion of new avionics and state-of-the-art weapons.
First of all, these are Kh-32 air-launched cruise missiles. Its range is 1,000 km, allowing to reach the CSG and attack it from a safe distance. More importantly, the missile is specially designed to penetrate the Aegis defense system, it flies at an altitude that exceeds the range of the defense system, at a speed of 1,500 m/s, compared with 800 m/s of SM-6 interceptor missile.