Asia Defense | Security

Report: Russia Has Developed Prototype of Air-to-Ground Hypersonic Missile for Su-57

The new weapons system can reportedly be fitted inside the Su-57s internal weapons bay.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Report: Russia Has Developed Prototype of Air-to-Ground Hypersonic Missile for Su-57

FILE – In this file photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jets perform during the MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia.

Credit: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File

Russia has developed a hypersonic air-to-ground missile for its Sukhoi Su-57 fighter aircraft, the country’s first purported indigenously designed and built fifth-generation stealth fighter, according to Russian defense industry sources. The new weapon system can reportedly be fitted inside the Su-57s internal weapons bay. 

The enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex have created a prototype of a small-sized air-to-surface hypersonic missile for[internal] deployment on the Su-57 fighter,” a source was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on February 23. 

In December 2018, a defense industry source revealed that the Su-57 may be armed with a hypersonic air-to-surface missile with “characteristics” similar to that of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“Dagger”) air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM).

The source did not provide any additional details regarding the missile. However, given the large size of the Kinzhal, the new hypersonic missile will likely be smaller given that it reportedly fits inside the Su-57’s internal weapons bay.

The nuclear capable Kinzhal ALBM is thought to be a variant of the ground-launched Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile. The Iskander has an estimated range of 500 kilometers and is capable of reaching top speeds of up to Mach 5.9 in its terminal flight phase. 

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The Kh-47M2 is currently being integrated with the MiG-31K interceptor aircraft, a modified MIG-31BM. 

As I explained elsewhere:

According to the Russian MoD, following its launch, the Kh-47M2 ALBM can rapidly accelerate to Mach 4 and may reach top speeds of up to Mach 10 while performing evasive maneuvers. The MoD also claims that the new missile’s range is about 2,000 kilometers. (A recent report suggests that the missile’s range can extend to over 3,000 kilometers when fired from a Tu-22M3.)

All these claims are highly questionable, as analysts have repeatedly pointed out in the past.

There is also speculation that the Su-57 will receive a new air-to-air hypersonic missile, an upgraded variant of the R-37 (K-37/RVV-BD) missile, capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 6 and an estimated operational range of over 300 kilometers, according to Russian defense industry sources. 

The Russian Air Force is expected to receive the first batch of serial-produced Sukhoi Su-57 fighter aircraft this year. 

A Su-57 crashed in December 2019 some 120 kilometers from the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant in Russia’s Far East during a flight test. The aircraft involved in the incident is thought to be the first serial-produced Su-57.

In 2019, the Russian MoD announced that it will not mass-produce the Su-57 fighter jet. The Russian Air Force is currently testing 10 Su-57 prototypes, four of which reportedly have flown combat missions in Syria, while using three airframes for ground testing.