- The Russians have been announcing one deadly
advance after another. Why now? Maybe they are working away... beefing
up their missile weapons... because they will be needing them in the next
few years? -Jan
- Russia revealed it was fitting its strategic bombers
with cruise missiles capable of delivering a massive precision strike
of miles away -- giving away the first clear hint of its post-Cold War
- "Russia's long-range air force finally has a new
weapon," the government's Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily announced in a
headline. "We now have a strategic cruise missile with a non-nuclear
warhead," the paper wrote.
- "We have broken the US monopoly on the use of
conventional cruise missiles," an unnamed senior air force commander
- The technology appears to be similar to cruise missiles
that the United States has long attached to its own intercontinental
like the B-2 Stealth bomber.
- The announcement followed months of cryptic statements
from President Vladimir Putin and his top generals that Russia was
a new missile program that is a step ahead of any Western rivals --
technology developed by the United States.
- Putin declared last month that Russia had "conducted
tests of the latest nuclear rocket systems" in a cryptic comment that
puzzled military strategists but seemed aimed at Washington and its mooted
missile defense shield that Moscow considers illegal.
- Russia has been developing a range of new missiles
of penetrating US defenses as a result.
- Generals announced earlier this year the successful tests
of a hypersonic intercontinental missile that has no officially-confirmed
rival in the United States.
- Moscow is also believed to be developing a multi-stage
intercontinental ballistic missile that uses cruise missile technology
to zigzag and avoid being shot down once it re-enters the earth's
- Finally Russia announced that it was making its most
feared and powerful trans-Atlantic missile mobile within the next two
- But the latest technology announced Monday would see
old Soviet-era conventional missiles be carried by strategic bombers with
a global range.
- The Russian government daily said tests of the new system
were being conducted in military exercises now under way in southern
- "This year, our strategic Tu-160 and Tu-95s bombers
have been equipped with new non-nuclear precision weapons," ITAR-TASS
quoted an unnamed Russian air force general as saying.
- "These cruise missiles have a range of more than
3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) and can miss a target by no more than a
few meters while carrying a warhead of hundreds of kilotons," the
- The report failed to specify the type of missile being
- The bombers currently carry an intercontinental ballistic
missile called X-55 (AS-15 Kent according to Western classification) that
was first deployed in 1983.
- But Russian news reports said at least some of the planes
will now be re-equipped with a new smaller missile which in Russian is
called OFAB-500 and which carries a massive cluster bomb weighing 515
- The pudgy weapon only has a top speed of 1,200 kilometers
(720 miles) an hour but would be launched from bombers that can reach any
spot on earth.
- A military source told ITAR-TASS the first Tu-160 has
been equipped with 45 tons of bombs -- or about 90 missiles.
- "These new cruise missiles are a very precise
the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) official defense ministry newspaper
- "The crew will be capable of delivering, as they
say, a 'present' through an open window," the paper said.
- However the Russian government daily pointed out that
Moscow has a long way to go before it can catch up with Washington.
- Rossiyskaya Gazeta estimated said the United States now
has 5,000 non-nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with up to 700 of them
to global B-52 and B-2 bombers.
- The unnamed general told ITAR-TASS that Russia's
was primarily aimed for "anti-terrorist operations" rather than
a major war