Russian cruise missiles fitted with conventional warheads and high-precision bombs are now capable of striking terrorist bases and other targets around the world, Air Force chief of staff Boris Cheltsov told reporters Wednesday.
“Today, the long-range air forces have high-precision long-range weapons that permit us to reach terrorists in any part of the world and inflict on them the damage they deserve,” he said, RIA-Novosti reported.
The announcement — the most specific claim yet by the military about new strategic armament systems — comes after months of general comments by top government and military officials that work on new conventional and nuclear defense systems was nearing completion.
After the Beslan attack in September, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the General Staff, said that Russia reserved the right to strike terrorist bases abroad.
Earlier this week, Itar-Tass quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Russia “has broken the American monopoly on the use of conventional long-range cruise missiles” and that the “armed forces have the capacity to carry out precision strikes on terrorist bases in any part of the world.”
The official said that the cruise missiles, which are being fitted to Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers, could hit targets at a range of more than 3,000 kilometers to within several meters.
Though the official did not identify the missiles, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported earlier that they are the Kh-555, modified from the nuclear Kh-55, the only long-range missile in service with the Air Force. Kh-555 is equipped with a guidance system said to be capable of penetrating anti-ballistic missile and air defense systems.
Russian media speculated on Monday that the new technology resembles the U.S. Tomahawks used on B-2 stealth bombers.
The first two Tu-160 bombers carrying conventional cruise missiles will be stationed at the Air Force base near Engels in the Saratov region next year, Itar-Tass reported earlier this week.
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