– Japan Air Self-Defense Force Scrambles Fighters to Repel Bear Bombers, Russian Sortie Includes Reconnais- sance and AWACS Aircraft (source)
– Russia’s Tactical Missile Weapons Corporation Develops New Long-Range Air-to-Air and Anti-Ship Missiles
While the Kremlin-run United Aircraft Corporation, which amalgamates all of Russia’s most famous aviation design bureaus, feverishly develops Moscow’s first stealth bomber, the Russian Air Force is busily upgrading its current inventory, which is based entirely on Soviet technology from the 1970s and 1980s. According to spokesman Colonel Vladimir Drik, Russia will modernize 10 of the air force’s 16 Tu-160 Blackjack bombers (pictured above) and 30 of the air force’s 141 Tu-22M3 Backfire-C bombers, installing new weaponry and improved electronics and avionics by 2020.
Both the Tu-160 and Tu-22M3 are supersonic variable-geometry strategic bombers that can be armed with nuclear and conventional bombs and cruise missiles. The massive Tu-160, relates Novosti, “is designed to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theaters of operation,” while the smaller Tu-22M3 mainly patrols the skies over Russia’s southern borders, Central Asia, and the Black Sea region. The refitted Tu-22M3s will be dubbed Tu-22M3M.
All of the upgraded combat aircraft will remain in service until the Tupolev Design Bureau develops Russia’s fifth-generation, stealth-based strategic bomber, PAK-DA, with the expectation that the first will enter combat duty in 2025.
Under the snappy title, “Russia hits afterburners on stealth tech,” Shane McGlaun and Trent Nouveau write: “It comes as little surprise that Russia has significantly accelerated development of its stealth program in recent years, and remains on track to debut an operational Sukhoi PAK FA twin-engine stealth jet fighter sometime in 2015.”
The PAK-FA fighter, also known as the T50, flew in prototype form in January 2010. Sukhoi director Mikhail Pogosyan says he foresees a market for 1,000 “fifth-gen” T-50 aircraft over the next 40 years, which will be produced in a joint venture with India: 200 each for Russia and India and 600 for other (as yet unnamed) countries.
Referring to the F-22 Raptor, the US Air Force’s stealth fighter, Israeli military analyst Arie Egoz confirms that “The Russians have managed to close the gap, and in a big way.” Egoz explains: “A stealth aircraft boasts a unique geometric design that prevents radar waves from returning to the antenna of a transmitting station, thus preventing its detection. The body of the aircraft is typically painted with special radar absorbing materials, which also helps to prevent radar stations from detecting the plane.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s Tactical Missile Weapons Corporation (TRV) has developed a new air-to-air missile that will soon be in service with the Russian Air Force. The RVV-BD long-range air-to-air guided missile can be carried on the MiG-31BM fighter-interceptor, but is also designed to be carried on the T-50.
TRV director-general Boris Obnosov boasts that the RVV-BD will “contribute significantly” to the potential of the Russian Air Force. He elaborates: “The RVV-BD missile will replace the R-33E long-range air-to-air guided missile which is the basic weapon of the MiG-31 interceptor. As for the new missile, it will also be carried by the PAK FA fifth-generation fighter jet. The all-weather RVV-BD is designed to destroy fighters, attack aircraft, bombers and cruise missiles.” State-run Voice of Russia praises the RVV-BD:
High aerodynamic characteristics of the 510-kg missile and the use of dual-mode solid fuel permit the launch range of up to 200 kilometers. Equipped with an active warning and radar system, the missile has high maneuverability and optical jamming immunity. It is capable of effectively eliminating enemy targets from all aspects and against all ground and water surfaces.
Additionally, the missile is equipped with a multichannel launch system based on the launch-and-forget principle. No wonder, therefore, Russian pilots can’t wait to see the completion of RVV-BD tests as soon as possible.
At the same time, the Tactical Missile Corporation is designing the X-55 cruise missile, a high-precision medium- and long-range weapon that will add to Russia’s strategic non-nuclear deterrence, as well as an anti-ship missile. With respect to tests of the latter, Obnosov relates: “Our systems Mosquito-E and Uran-E are already well known, and we are rather successfully moving forward here. Recently, we showcased the X-35UE new generation anti-ship missile which was significantly updated in terms of its range and radar immunity.”