Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM fighters will receive a new hypersonic air-to-surface missile. The creation of the product is carried out within the framework of the modernisation and development of the “SU” series.
According to experts, the Su-30SM with the Kh-32 supersonic air-launched liquid-propellant hypersonic missile, which was previously used only on long-range Tu-22M bombers. Such powerful missiles are capable of increasing the capabilities of aviation enormously, with such missiles the fighter aircraft will be able to hit surface and ground targets at a distance of up to 1000 kilometres.
The research and development (R&D) on the modernization of the Su-30SM began in 2015 according to sources. Several leading companies of the military-industrial complex are involved, including the State Machine-Building Design Bureau “Raduga” named after A.Ya. Bereznyak. GosMKB is the largest domestic manufacturer of supersonic and hypersonic weapons for aviation.
To ensure the use of the latest ammunition, the N011M Bars radar will be modified. They will also update the fighter’s computer system and the onboard defence system, and replace foreign components with domestic ones. Completion of work on the development of modernization of the aircraft is scheduled for the end of the year, said the same source.
Under the name of R&D, there are several different programs for the creation of offensive missiles for fighter aircraft, Dmitry Kornev, editor of the MilitaryRussia.ru, in an interview stated that the modernisation includes the Kh-32 missiles, as a modern modification of the old Kh-22 missile, which is used on the Tu-22M bomber. Besides, within the framework of these (R&D) projects, more modern hypersonic missiles, still, secretly developed.
The Kh-32 is a powerful dual-use missile. “It can be used as an anti-ship or fixed targets with previously known coordinates,” explained Dmitry Kornev. To penetrate the reinforced hull of the ships, a High-explosive (Heat) warhead is used. Several of these missiles are capable of destroying an aircraft carrier. And one hit is enough to disable any ship of any type. If such ammunition is adapted for the Su-30SM, then any front-line aviation regiment will be able to use long-range cruise missiles with almost hypersonic speed. Potentially, The Su-30 is capable of carrying one X-32 on the main suspension under the fuselage.
The Kh-32 surpasses the Soviet prototype in all respects. At an altitude of 40 km, it is capable of accelerating up to five times speeds of sound, which allows it to be classified as hypersonic. With a diameter of 90 cm, the rocket weighs almost 6 tons. The increased fuel supply allows it to hit targets at a distance of up to 1000 kilometres. An important update is the new anti-jamming seeker. Such characteristics were chosen to reliably overcome the most powerful air defence systems in the world.
In 2016, the Ministry of Defence announced the adoption of the Kh-32 into service with Tupolev Tu-22M bombers. The possibility of equipping fighters with these missiles was not previously reported. However, in May 2020, reliable sources revealed that different types of tests in the military-industrial complex were held including tests on different hypersonic ammunition for the Tu-22M3M that do not belong to the Kh-32 missile line. Its designation is still unknown.
Russia already has experienced successful adapting of heavy hypersonic missiles for use in fighters. In his message to the Federal Assembly in March 2018, Vladimir Putin announced for the first time that the country had modernized MiG-31K interceptors aircraft equipped with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal dagger.
At the end of 2018, the first 10 MiG-31Ks with this newest hypersonic ammunition took over on experimental combat duty. Since then, this type of aircraft has been regularly used in exercises and demonstrated at aviation parades in Moscow.
“Daggers” are planned to be used mainly against ground targets. The Kh-32 has even greater weight and dimensions in comparison with them and is intended mainly for combating detachments of enemy ships.
Su-30SM has been serially supplied to the troops since 2013. Today, they have become the most numerous type of new fighters in service. More than a hundred units have already received combat units of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Russian Navy.
Aircraft of the Su-30 family is one of the most popular export products of the Russian military-industrial complex. In addition to Russia, the Su-30SM is in service with Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Export variants of the Su-30 are available in the arsenals of China, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Algeria and many other states.
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