In 2022, tests of the latest air-launched hypersonic missile are to begin in Russia. It does not yet have an official name, but development work is carried out under the code "Ostrota" ("Sharpness"). This is exactly what this development is called in the media, although it is known about it, let's be frank, so far not very much. Nevertheless, the analysis of the information available in the public domain allows us to gain some understanding of what should soon go into service with our VKS (Russian Aerospace Forces).
First of all, we note that this is not the first "product" in the line of hypersonic weapons, developed and put into service in Russia. And if it all started with the Kinzhal hypersonic missile, which, strictly speaking, does not belong to classical hypersonic missiles, but is the most advanced version of the long-known aeroballistic missiles, then the following developments of the Russian military-industrial complex showed that it is quite capable of real hypersonic missiles. And above all, of course, we are talking about the Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile, which is being actively tested right now. The sea-based rocket, according to available information, has already shown outstanding performance in speed, accelerating in some areas faster than eight speeds of sound (Mach numbers), while using a ramjet engine.
The range of "Zircon", according to available information, is about one and a half thousand kilometers. It is designed for launch from naval carriers and will be able to hit both naval and stationary coastal targets. The potential of such a weapon is so great that it would be strange if Russian scientists and designers did not try to create a similar air-launched missile. And it seems to be actively being developed - another development of our gunsmiths, the Gremlin hypersonic missile, claims to be a powerful long-range long-range hypersonic missile.
However, it is obvious to specialists that, for all the importance of long-range hypersonic weapons, they cannot cover the entire spectrum of hypersonic missiles necessary for the Russian army. Modern combat operations involve not only the destruction of previously reconnoitered, powerful and very important enemy targets, but also a prompt response to new threats, information about which was received literally this very second. For example, it can be a radar system suddenly turned on, threatening our military aviation, or information received from a drone or from scouts about reaching the line of combat deployment of an operational-tactical missile system, which has literally one or two minutes to defeat.
That is, we are talking about weapons that can be used directly in battle, in an environment of almost instant decision-making, conditioned not by strategic, but by operational necessity. And in this case, the use of such powerful and expensive systems as "Dagger" or "Gremlin" may simply not be justified in terms of price, and the time of their reaction (taking into account the time required for the rise of carrier aircraft, etc.) whether it will be satisfactory.
That is, the niche of a relatively light and inexpensive hypersonic weapon is currently free. And it, taking into account all the factors, is in great demand. And it looks like Ostrota, a lighter, more compact hypersonic missile, which is capable of carrying our main, today, front-line bomber Su-34, will become just such a means of destruction.
So far, not much is known about this product. Yes, this is a classic hypersound - a ramjet engine known as "product 71" has been developed for the rocket at the Turaevsky machine-building design bureau "Soyuz". And this already presupposes a flight in airspace, with overcoming air resistance, in a cloud of high-temperature plasma. The estimated speed of the rocket will be at least Mach 6, and this, to make it a little clearer, is of the order of two kilometers per second. It is practically impossible to intercept such a missile with modern air defense systems, and given the fact that it can maneuver in flight, it is impossible purely theoretically. That is, this will at least force a potential adversary to spend huge amounts of money on the development of new air defense systems and subsequent large-scale rearmament.
In addition to the aforementioned Su-34 front-line bomber, the Ostrota will be carried by the Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber. This vehicle, which belongs to the class of strategic missile carriers, is capable of carrying practically the entire spectrum of modern aviation missile weapons, including the Gremlin long-range hypersonic missiles, for sure. But in a situation of a possible breakthrough of enemy air defense, the most demanded missiles may turn out to be sharp-type missiles, capable of instantly reacting to enemy radar irradiation and creating problems incompatible with the further fulfillment of their main task.
So, we can assume that it is the anti-radar orientation of the new missile that should be the main one. But in general, this will primarily depend on the homing systems that can be integrated into the new product. Combined guidance systems using external target designation and homing systems will make available to Ostrota the widest range of targets, from the aforementioned radar complexes to stationary, well-camouflaged communication centers, command posts and so on. Of course, it is too early to talk about this, given the general problem of hypersonic systems - a cloud of hot plasma that is opaque to radio waves, through which the signals of the GLONASS system or the radio command do not penetrate. But if we assume that this problem was somehow solved at the Dagger and Zircon complexes, there is every reason to think that they will solve it in this case as well.
With regard to such parameters as dimensions or flight range, so far nothing definite can be said. It is only known that the rocket will be smaller than the "Gremlin" currently being developed, and even smaller than the "Zircon" being tested. At the same time, rather powerful carriers, declared in this case, imply, nevertheless, solid dimensions and weight, perhaps about a ton, or even more. In this case, unfortunately, the missile cannot be indiscriminately integrated into the arsenal of any combat aircraft in service with the Russian Aerospace Forces. But this may not be necessary.
At the same time, it can be assumed that the range of the "Ostrota" will be at least 400-500 kilometers. This is dictated, first of all, by the range of action of the most long-range modern air defense systems. Agree, it makes little sense to equip the Tu-22M3 with a melee anti-radar weapon, provided that it is unlikely to be picked up unnoticed by a modern air defense system.
How long the tests will last is impossible to say. Although it is obvious that the experience of creating hypersonic weapons in Russia significantly increases the chances of successfully putting the new missile into service. But let's be realistic - the topic of hypersonic weapons is still very new, there are still many difficulties, puzzles and pitfalls waiting for the designers. Therefore, we agree that our optimism should be very careful.
At the same time, the emergence of this class of missiles and their equipping, first of all, of the Su-34 "front-line soldier", which in the near future should completely replace its predecessor in the troops, the Su-24 variable sweep wing bomber, will certainly significantly increase the combat potential Russian videoconferencing. A relatively inexpensive hypersonic missile, which is part of the arsenal of a massive front-line bomber, must surely become a severe headache for any potential enemy of our country.
And besides, the very fact of the successful work of our gunsmiths at the most advanced scientific and technological progress is encouraging. Perhaps in computers we really lagged behind forever, but in hypersound, it seems, we were far ahead of everyone.