The modernization of the Tu-22M3 Russian supersonic bomber means the return of the “curse” to the US Navy, reads the article published in the American magazine The National Interest.
According to the author of the article, during the Cold War the US Navy was protected from the Tu-22M3 by the Grumman F-14 Tomcat jet fighter, equipped with guided missiles like the AIM-54 Phoenix.
“The Tu-22M3 Russian aircraft are a small part of the power that the USSR once possessed. However, today’s Tu-22M3, equipped with modernized weapons and sensors, represents the same threat, but on a smaller scale”,
According to the magazine, the problem for the US is even more serious because of the withdrawal of the F-14 Tomcat from the US operational service in the 1990’s.
“So even a modest Russian attack capability can pose a real threat to a naval group taking into account the capabilities of the Kh-32, especially considering its speed and maneuverability,”
The F/A-18E / F Super Hornet, along with the Aegis naval combat system, can serve as worthy protectors of the North American fleet. However, due to the insufficient speed of the Super Hornet, this fighter would hardly be able to intercept a Tu-22M3 until the release of Kh-32 is carried out, according to the article.
The anti-aircraft Kh-32 hypersonic cruise missile is the result of a major modernization of the Soviet Kh-22. It differs from its “predecessor” by its new aiming system, protected from electronic interference, increased tank volume, as well as a more powerful engine.
The Kh-32 is capable of targeting a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers. Thus, the missile carrier does not have to enter the enemy’s on-board aviation action zone.
Previously, the Kazan aeronautics plant announced plans to launch the Tu-22M3M supersonic bomber, a new modification of the Tu-22M3, after a thorough modernization of the aircraft adopted in service in 1989. The aircraft was designed to target land targets and naval vessels of a high, medium or low altitude. Tu-22M3 participated in the anti-terror operation in Syria in 2015 and 2017.