Tu-22M3 Tested a Secret Hypersonic Missile With Impressive Characteristics

Hypersonic weapons systems are the military fashion of the 21st century, and it appears that Russia is an absolute leader in it. While the Americans and Chinese are in an “rudimentary” position vis-a-vis hypersonic weapons, although their media does not believe so, Russia is testing its hypersonic innovations to the full. Thus, it recently became known about the testing of the next missile intended for the Tu-22M3M.

Initially, this information did not look too enticing – the Tu-22M3 tested a hypersonic missile. So what? The military has long wanted to adapt the “Kinzhal” Х-47М2 to the bomber. Except it’s not “Kinzhal”, it’s another product. At first, one might think it was something from the standard Tu-22M3 set, namely one of the variations of the Kh-22. This missile is inherently unique and its modern modification, the Kh-32, is missing just a little bit to the required speed bar. Hypersound starts from mach 5 and above, and Kh-32 can accelerate to mach 4.5, or in terms of a little more than 5000 km/h. And everything rests on the engine, which, by the way, works on liquid fuel, which the Americans could not replicate. It is logical to assume that the designer “finished” the missile, adding to it a couple hundred kilometers per hour – here’s the new hypersonic anti-ship missile. However, this news was immediately refuted, specifying that the new product does not relate to the Kh-32.

If it’s not “Kinzhal” or “Burya-M”, then what is it? There are not many options left, but one of them is GZUR (giperzvukovoy upravlyayemoy rakety), which stands for hypersonic guided missile. It was first reported as early as 2011 and is being developed in parallel with Kh-50, a reduced copy of the Kh-101. These two weapons are created precisely for the Tu-22M3M, with the possibility of placement in the internal compartments of the bomber. Thus, the jet will shed its main disadvantage – the absence of modern long-range missiles (Tu-95 and Tu-160 have Kh-101). It is expected that the Tu-22M3M will be able to carry up to 5-6 GZUR, which will be located on the revolving launcher. Despite the fact that the promising missile is built for the Tu-22M3M, the Tu-160 will also receive it, and it will be able to take 24 of them on-board – its combat load allows this (maximum of 45 tons).

However, if this missile is so small, does it not mean that its characteristics are significantly reduced? The same “Kinzhal” weighs almost 5 tons, and its advantage does not stand out too much (well, except for speed). Indeed, according to open information it is known that GZUR weighs about 1500 kilograms, which is really not a lot for such a munition. However, it has an impressive range of 1,500 kilometres. This is more than enough to ensure that the carrier remains completely safe from any means of counteraction. By the way, we haven’t yet said anything about the purpose of the missile – it is universal and can work both on ground and above-water targets. Such versatility is provided by a unique homing head, which was borrowed from the Kh-35u and brought specifically for this project. And the most important thing is the speed of the product. The data for it varies – a minimum of mach 6, and a maximum, like “Kinzhal”, of mach 12. However, according to recent reports, the missile reached mach 6 after all, which is also decent – about 7000 km/h. Of course, no air defence/missile defence system at the disposal of our likely opponents can stop such a munition.

Initially it was expected that this product would be tested around 2020, which we can observe – the work is going according to plan. US intelligence believes that after successful demonstration shooting, 50 units of the missile will be produced per year. By the way, other, lighter jets, such as the Su-34, will be able to lift the GZUR.

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