Long-range cruise missiles will be modified to be launched from front-line Su-34 fighter-bombers, RIA Novosti news agency said.
According to RIA Novosti sources, this long-range cruise missile is not new, but has never been deployed on the Su-34 before, and this solution will increase diversity in combat situations.
In fact, the type of long-range cruise missile that the Su-34 is about to carry has not yet been announced, but we are probably talking about the Kh-101, Kh-55 or Kh-555 strategic missiles. Usually, Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers are used for launches. Thus, the Su-34 is the first heavy fighter-bomber in the world to receive the capabilities of a true strategic bomber.
Long-range cruise missiles will be equipped on the Su-34M, or Su-34NVO as it is commonly called in Russia. With Ukraine’s drone onslaught rattling Russian infrastructure and troops in the past weeks, Moscow has intensified its aerial attacks, often dominated by cruise missiles on Ukraine. The Su-34 Fullback is a twin-engine, twin-seat, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber deployed extensively by the Russian Aerospace Forces to carry out air-to-ground strikes and bombing runs on Ukrainian forces. Fully aware of the aircraft’s utility, the VKS has now started to arm it with the most lethal munitions available in its inventory.
The Su-34 is certainly a unique aircraft, no other product can compare with it in terms of combat and maneuverability, combining the capabilities of a heavy fighter, a long-range interceptor and bomber, and now a Long-Range Cruise Missile Carrier. The aircraft has 12 weapon hardpoints, can carry up to 8 tons of different weapons, it is also equipped with a 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon for close combat. When on an interception mission, the Su-34 will carry a variety of air-to-air missiles under its wings, including types with a range of hundreds of kilometers.
The Su-34 can also carry a variety of electronic warfare systems. The aircraft is controlled by a crew of 2, has a maximum speed of 1,900 km/h, and a flight range of 4,000 km. The Su-34 has one of the best optical-electronic systems in the world and an excellent radar complex. And now about long-range cruise missiles, Russia currently has 3 types: Kh-32, Kh-35 and Kh-101, not to mention their different variants.
Since “the missile is not new”, it can be surmised that it is the Kh-32 and Kh-55. They have all been deployed on strategic bombers Tu-95MS, Tu-160 and Tu-22M3M. For a long time, the Kh-32 was considered an anti-ship missile, it weighed 5,780 kg, carried a conventional warhead of about 500 kg or a nuclear warhead, and had a flight range of up to 1,000 km.
Such a missile can easily sink an aircraft carrier and penetrate the fleet’s air defense system. Experts believe that the Kh-32 missile cannot be intercepted. After separating from the launcher, the Kh-32 sharply increased its altitude to 40 km and flew towards the target at a speed of 5,000 km/h. After approaching the intended point, the projectile descended and reached supersonic speed.
Meanwhile, the Kh-55 is a small, subsonic strategic missile that flies along the terrain at low altitude, designed to be used against important strategic ground targets of the enemy at low altitudes. The Kh-55’s speed varies from 720 to 830 km/h, with a range of 2,500 km. The mass of the high explosive warhead is 410 kg or can carry a nuclear warhead. The missile’s cruise altitude is from 40 m to 110 meters.
Modification of any cruise missile – Kh-32 or Kh-55 for carrying by Su-34 front-line bombers will become a headache not only for the Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces but As for NATO.