Russia is developing a cruise missile with a 3000 KM range which would be launched from a modernized version of the Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber and planed for service entry by 2020.
The extremely long range missile development indicates a shift in Russian military philosophy towards long range weapons to reduce the risk of detection and attack from anti-aircraft and anti-attack systems. The success of the cruise missile campaign in Syria where missiles were fired with precision targeting from thousands of kilometres away is believed to fuel this strategic thought.
The ultra-long range cruise missile is being developed by The Russian State Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Systems (GosNIIAS) whose First Deputy of the General Director and Supervisor of Studies Evgeny Fedosov was quoted as saying about the project by Rossiyskaya Gazeta yesterday.
The Tu-160 is capable of carrying Raduga Kh-55SM, Kh-101, Kh-102 or Kh-555 cruise missiles and Raduga Kh-15 short-range nuclear missiles. The Kh-101 is believed to have a maximum range of 5,500 kilometers (over 3,400 miles), while the aircraft itself has a maximum range of 12,300 km (7,643 miles) without refueling.
Defense analyst Dave Majumdar called the Tu-160M as "practically a new aircraft under the hood."
The upgrade will see 60 percent of the plane's equipment replaced with top-end gear, including hypersonic missiles, improved avionics and electronics.