Installing Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles on Sukhoi Su-34 multifunctional fighter-bombers will let the Russian forces expand their capabilities in the special military operation in Ukraine, US-based publication Military Watch Magazine said.
The Su-34 requires significantly less maintenance and has higher readiness rates than the main carrier of the Kinzhal missile, the MiG-31 aircraft. Therefore, installing the Kinzhal missile on the Su-34 will change the state of affairs in many theatres of operations where these fighters are used — from the Arctic and the Far East to Ukraine and Syria, the publication said.
According to MWM, the Kinzhal remains highly maneuverable while reaching Mach 9 speed. This makes the missile virtually invulnerable to anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems. In addition, Kinzhal missiles are made at the factory that also manufactures 9M723 missiles for Iskander-M ground complexes. Production capacities of those enterprises have increased considerably over the past year.
The use of Kinzhal missiles on Su-34 aircraft will make Russian attacks on Ukrainian targets even more unexpected. The Ukrainian military will not be able to predict such attacks at all. In addition, launching such hypersonic missiles from the Su-34 fighter-bomber would improve accuracy of Russian strikes.
The Armed Forces of Russia use hypersonic missiles to strike strategically important objects of Ukraine's military infrastructure. In May, a Kinzhal missile destroyed a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system in Kyiv. In an attempt to shoot down the Kinzhal, the US-made missile defence system fired as many as 32 missiles from eight launchers. However, the Kinzhal struck the heart of the complex — the radar station and the control centre. Several positions of other anti-aircraft systems were also destroyed as a result of that strike.
Ukrainian officials claimed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine allegedly managed to shoot down six Kinzhal missiles. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu later responded by saying that the Russian forces did not launch that many Kinzhals.
Honoured military pilot Major General Vladimir Popov said that Su-34 and MiG-31 aircraft were comparable in terms of their weight and size, but the aircraft wee designed for different purposes. The MiG-31 is a high-altitude interceptor, whereas the Su-34 is a fighter-bomber designed to destroy ground targets. According to him, the Su-34 sighting and navigation system is more advanced than that of the MiG-31.
To detect air and ground targets, the Su-34 is equipped with the Sh-141 radar station. The Su-34 sighting system detects and hits targets with the help of a radar system. The complex also includes the Platan system that guides bombs and air-to-ground missiles to the target.
The production of the MiG-31 fighter was discontinued in 1994, whereas the Su-34 is mass-produced. This makes it possible to upgrade systems of new aircraft for Kinzhal missiles.
In July, it was said that Russia doubled the production of Su-35 multi-purpose fighters and Su-34 fighter-bombers.
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