Russia: Rogozin Calls for Hypersonic Bomber by 2020

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

In a move that has puzzled military observers, Russia’s defense czar has called for his nation to produce a hypersonic bomber within eight years:

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin repeated his appeal on Monday for Russia to develop a hypersonic aircraft for its PAK-DA long-range bomber requirement.

“I think we need to go down the route of hypersonic technology and we are moving in that direction and are not falling behind the Americans,” he said on Rossiya 24 TV. “We will use this technology when developing a new bomber.”

Long-range military aviation is vital to Russia and “the question is will we copy the Americans’ forty-year experience and create a [Northrop] B-2 analog…or will we go down a new, ultramodern technology route, looking to the horizon, and create a machine able to penetrate air defenses and carry out a strike on any aggressor,” he said.

Aerospace specialists say Rogozin’s comments are more likely to be relevant to a future air-launched missile, rather than the bomber that launches it.

Military observers have found Rogozin’s comments puzzling:

“I very much doubt it would be possible to make a hypersonic bomber by that time [2020],” he said. “And there is no point. A supersonic bomber would be useful, but not hypersonic. Probably, he is talking about a missile,” said Maxim Pyadushkin, editor of the Russia/CIS Observer aviation magazine.

“In the Soviet-era there was considerable research into high-speed weaponry, culminating in projects such as the Raduga Kh-90, which is sometimes referred to as GELA,” said Douglas Barrie, air warfare analyst at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“None of the work resulted in an in-service weapon. Elements of this research could be re-invigorated as the basis for a weapon for the PAK-DA within the next 10-15 years. The PAK-DA – should the required substantial funding be made available – will be at best supersonic, if not a subsonic design with some stealth characteristics,” he added.

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