The Russian Su-35 fighter jet is armed with unique hypersonic weapons

MOSCOW, (BM) – Unique Russian super-maneuverable fighters armed with hypersonic missiles. The arsenal of fourth-generation Su-35 aircraft will replenish the R-37M air-to-air ammunition.

Thanks to the novelty, the “thirty-fifth” will be able to destroy targets in a radius of more than 200 km in a matter of seconds. This will give him an advantage over the most modern foreign military counterparts, experts noted.

Thanks to the R-37M aircraft will be able to shoot down “flying radars” of the enemy, designed for long-range radar detection. Su-35s will also be able to intercept carriers of cruise missiles even before they are launched.

Chasing the fifth generation

Test flights of Su-35 fighters with ultra-long-range R-37M air-to-air missiles (also known as RVV-BD) began, sources in the military-industrial complex told Izvestia. Test launches are expected by the end of this year. In the meantime, there is a development of electromagnetic compatibility with aircraft equipment and the integration of the latest ammunition in the airborne weapons system.

Earlier, Izvestia already wrote that the R-37M entered the arsenal of domestic fifth-generation fighters Su-57. In September 2018, Boris Obnosov, CEO of Tactical Missile Weapons Corporation, confirmed this information. Also, the RVV-DB will replenish the arsenal of “warships” – heavy supersonic interceptors MiG-31.

Thus, the Su-35 will become the third type of aircraft, the equipment of which will receive a novelty. A powerful radar mounted on the fighter, and communication equipment with automated air defense systems make it possible to effectively use missiles with such a range.

The new weapons will significantly increase the characteristics and combat capabilities of the “thirty-fifths,” said the former commander of the 4th Army Air Force and Air Defense, Hero of Russia, Lieutenant General Valery Gorbenko.

“This will allow him to solve a wide range of tasks in various types of military operations, both offensive and defensive,” he told Izvestia – “Our machines will be able to hit AWACS aircraft, bombers, tactical aircraft. In any case, it will be much more difficult for the enemy to evade such missiles: they will have very little time to maneuver from the moment a threat is detected.”

One Su-35 will be able to carry from two to four RVV-BDs, which will bring it closer in combat capabilities to the Su-57. With a maximum range of over 200 km, the ammunition surpasses modern and promising models of American AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, which are the main armament of long-range air combat for NATO aircraft. It is also twice as high as that of the R-77 – the longest-range of the missiles that the “thirty fifths” are equipped with today.

Until the adoption of promising fifth-generation fighters, the Su-35 will remain the most modern of our air fighters. Under two contracts concluded in 2009 and 2015, the aerospace forces should receive 98 such vehicles. The final batch of 10 aircraft will enter the troops this year. Then announced the purchase of additional fighters of this type.

Hypersonic sniper

Initially, the heavy R-37M halftone rockets were designed for the upgraded MiG-31BM interceptors to replace the aging R-33s. But then they were adapted to equip the promising Su-57 fighter. They will become the “long arm” of an ultra-modern combat vehicle, giving it a clear advantage over foreign analogues.

Long-range R-37M operates on the principle of “shot and forgot.” It is equipped with a highly sensitive active homing head, which detects targets without the need to constantly “illuminate” it with fighter radar, as on older models with semi-active guidance.

Compared with the predecessor R-33, which was designed to hit the same targets, the RVV-DB is capable of withstanding twice as much overload. This allows her to overtake not only large aircraft, but also maneuverable enemy fighters.

A very high, almost hypersonic speed, six times faster than sound, allows the ammunition to overcome the distance to the target even at maximum range in two to three minutes. The inertial navigation system, built on high-precision laser gyroscopes, conducts it most of the flight along the route. If the object suddenly changes course, the missile trajectory can be corrected from the fighter via a radio channel.

Directly in the target area, the homing radar is activated. Its exact characteristics are not announced. But previously, the developer revealed for his new products the opportunity to aim at fighters from a distance of 40–70 km. For stealth aircraft or cruise missiles, this distance will be less, for large bombers – more. Having found the target, the rocket carries out the final course correction. Only then can it be detected by radar radiation. But at short ranges it is already very difficult to react to ammunition flying at hypersonic speed and to evade it.

In the future, we can expect equipment of the R-37M and other modern modifications of the fourth generation fighters. In particular, it was stated about the possibility of their adaptation for the Su-30SM.


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Editorial team / Izvestia / Anton Lavrov, Bogdan Stepovoy

The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.