A new cruise missile has entered service with the Russian Air Force’s strategic long-range arms division, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday.
He did not provide any details, only saying it was an air-launched long range missile.
AF chief Col Gen Alexander Zelin previously said the new cruise missile was developed by the Taktitcheskoye Raketnoye Vooruzhenie (Tactical Missile) defense corporation and that its specifications were secret. He said the new missiles would also be installed in fifth-generation fighters.
Douglas Barrie, an air warfare analyst at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, said the new weapon was likely to be “either the Kh-555 or Kh-101/102.”
The Kh-555 is a new conventionally-armed variant of the Kh-55 nuclear-armed cruise missile, which has been in service since the 1984 on Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers.
Kh-101 is a stealthy nuclear armed cruise-missile under development by the Raduga design bureau, along with a conventionally-armed variant (Kh-102). Globalsecurity.org claims the weapon was test-fired in October 1998. Some reports claim the weapon is itself a derivative of Kh-555.
Serdyukov also said Russia’s fleet of Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers will be modernized.
Defense Ministry spokesman Vladimir Drik earlier said the AF’s strategic long-range arms division will receive more than 10 modernized Tu-160M Blackjack bombers by 2020.
The new bombers will be adapted to carry advanced cruise missiles and bombs.
Zelin said in January the AF will soon deploy an advanced tactical air-to-air missile that will greatly enhance its operational effectiveness. The missile will be carried by MiG-31BM Foxhound supersonic interceptors/fighters and will subsequently be used by other warplanes.
Zelin did not identify the missile but experts believe it could be the K-37M, also known as RVV-BD, or AA-X-13 Arrow as it is known to NATO.
The K-prefix denotes a weapon in development while the M indicates a modification. An export variant of the weapon, known as RVV-BD, was shown at MAKS 2011. The BD suffix may stand for the Russian words bolshoi dalnosti, or long range.