Russia's new Sukhoi T-50 stealth jet, which is due to enter service by the end of 2016, is to be equipped with advanced cruise missiles, a Moscow-based military publication said Thursday. The supersonic jet, also known as the PAK FA and similar in capability to the U.S. Air Force's F-22, is to be equipped with X-74M2 cruise missiles, capable of reaching Mach 4 in just a few seconds.
The official Russian military publication Zvezda likened the combination to “a lightning dagger blow you can never avoid,” the Moscow-based Sputnik website reported, adding that by carrying such a missile on board, the T-50 “nullifies all attempts by NATO to achieve air superiority.”
The aircraft and the missile are part of Russia's $400 billion efforts to completely overhaul what was once a poor, Soviet-style military that was still using weapons from World War II. While the overhaul is not due for completion until 2020, Russia has showcased many of its newest weapons, such as the S-400 missile defense system and Su-34 fighter jet, during dual international conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
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The two conflicts have shown Russia's weapons to be battle-ready and has in turn attracted interest from foreign buyers. India is in line to spend as much as $10 billion on the T-50 while Iran, China, Belarus and a range of other countries are lining up to get their hands on the S-400 missile system, which is being favorably compared to the U.S.-built Patriot missile system.
However, the reduction in the price of a barrel of oil, which dropped from more than $100 a barrel in October 2014 to a little more than $33 Thursday morning has slowed those efforts to advance the military. For every dollar that drops from the price of oil, Russia is forced to cut around $2 billion from its budget. The country is also experiencing severe economic issues that have plunged it into a recession.
The X-74M2 cruise missiles are allegedly capable of evading advanced NATO radar systems because of its small size and speed, Zvezda said.
The T-50 jet fighter will also carry anti-ship bombs that can hit maritime targets more than 250 kilometers away. Missiles are hidden inside the aircraft fuselage, which means the aircraft can fly sorties without appearing to be armed.