Russia’s new stealth jet is reportedly set to be equipped with hypersonic missiles said to be invincible to all current defense systems.
A source within the Russian defense industry informed the state-run Tass Russian News Agency on Thursday that the Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter would be equipped with missiles with specs resembling those of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile. The weapon was revealed earlier this year by Russian President Vladimir Putin and was said to be capable of traveling at Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound.
“In accordance with Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027, Su-57 jet fighters will be equipped with hypersonic missiles. The jet fighters will receive missiles with characteristics similar to that of the Kinzhal missiles, but with inter-body placement and smaller size,” the source said, according to the outlet.
As Putin explained during his March 1 State of the Nation address missiles that travel between Mach 1 and Mach 5 are known as supersonic missiles, while those traveling more than this—at speeds exceeding around 3,800 miles per hour—were classified as hypersonic. The Russian leader then revealed that Russia had been developing such a weapon known as the Kinzhal, or “Dagger.”
“The missile flying at a hypersonic speed, 10 times faster than the speed of sound, can also manoeuvre at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, delivering nuclear and conventional warheads in a range of over 2,000 kilometers [1,243 miles],” Putin said at the time.
The Kinzhal is currently fitted to the Mikoyan MiG-31K interceptor and attack aircraft and represents the latest Russian military advancement to raise concerns in both Washington and the Pentagon. Though the U.S. Air Force maintains a healthy advantage over its Russian near-peer competitor, missile defenses would be hard-pressed to respond due to a hypersonic attack, especially if the Kinzhal was capable of maneuvering throughout its flight as reported.
Russia has a long history of exaggerating its military capability, in order to project fear into the world. But the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has scrambled to upgrade modern anti-missile systems to respond to the threat.
Ties between the Washington and Moscow have continued to deteriorate in recent years, with the U.S. feeling its global interests threatened by Russia’s rising military and political power. Despite Putin and President Donald Trump having pledged to reset the broken ties between their nations, differences have set the men apart and their relationship has been marred by U.S. decisions to sanction Russia and potentially scrap key nuclear deals, as well as Russia’s military involvement in Syria and its disputed control of the Crimean Peninsula and surrounding waters near Ukraine.