Russia is expected to build the first air-launched hypersonic missiles over the next six years, according to the director general of a Russian missile manufacturer. The statement followed an announcement Thursday that the country’s army will modernize most of its arsenal by 2020.
Boris Obnosov, director general of Tactical Missiles Corporation, which develops and manufactures missiles, said that the Russian hypersonic missiles will be air-launched at first, and will use the carrier aircraft’s early velocity to reach speeds as high as eight times the speed of sound.
“In my estimation, the first hypersonic products should appear … in this decade — before 2020,” Sputnik quoted Obnosov as saying to journalists at the Airshow China-2014, an industry event. “We have approached this. We are talking about speeds of up to six to eight Mach. Achieving higher speeds is a long term perspective.”
At the same time, Obnosov suggested that manned hypersonic vehicles are not likely to appear earlier than 2030.
“I believe that manned flights at hypersonic speeds will be possible sometime between 2030 and 2040,” he said, adding that the hypersonic missiles will be carried by Russia’s first PAK DA next-generation long-range bombers, which are expected to enter service by 2023, Sputnik reported.
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. Eduard Cherkasov, the head of RChBD troops, said that Russia is currently developing special ammunition for the future that would be capable of targeting “highly secure defense constructions.” The official also said that the Russian army will modernize a major portion of the country’s weaponry by 2020.
Earlier this month, Russia successfully test-fired an intercontinental missile from a submerged Northern Fleet nuclear submarine from the Barents Sea to the Kura Range on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the country's far east, which is across the Bering Sea from the U.S. state of Alaska.