The Russian Air Force reveals a new capability of the Su-34 fighters by deploying Kinzhal ballistic missiles in a strategic move.
Integration of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal into Russian fighters
The recent escalation in the production of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile showed its incorporation into modified MiG-31 interceptors, now designated MiG-31K/I, since 2017. Although it is estimated that there are only between 30 and 35 operational MiG-31K/I units, the Su-34 dominates in number within the Russian Air Force, with more than 120 units in service.
The Su-34, with its low maintenance requirements and operating costs, is ideally positioned to deploy Kinzhal missiles. Its presence ranges from the Arctic and the Far East to Ukraine and Syria.
The Su-34 is known for its tactical range, second only to the MiG-31. Its design allows carrying heavier loads over greater distances.
Errors in the identification and potential of the Su-34
Russian state media made errors in identifying the Su-35 fighter as responsible for deploying the Kinzhal. However, inaccurate images pointed to the Su-34. The Su-35, designed for air domination, has lower payload and range capabilities than the Su-34, raising doubts about previously released information.
An anonymous informant revealed that a Su-34 launched a Kinzhal missile in a “special operation.” The first successful crew on such a mission will be recognized with state awards.
Kinzhal missiles, used in operations in Ukraine, proved highly effective, even neutralizing Patriot missile batteries in Kyiv.
Outstanding features of Kinzhal missiles
The Kinzhals, with speeds close to Mach 9, present a challenge to track and intercept. Furthermore, its versatility is highlighted by housing different warheads and sharing production lines with 9M723 missiles for the Iskander-M system.
The addition of ballistic and cruise missiles to its fighter jets balances areas where Russia has fallen behind, such as the deployment of stealth fighters. In this area, Russia lags behind China and the US.