Russia says its Su-34 fighters carried out ‘surgical strikes’ on military infrastructure using Kh-29 missiles ‘of Ukrainian origin’

On September 20, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a video of the Su-34 fighter-bomber performing sorties to attack the military infrastructure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) with Kh-29 high-precision air-to-surface missiles.

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Su-34 aircraft operators used high-precision Kh-29 air-to-surface missiles to attack enemy ground targets and air defense systems at a distance of up to 30 km, Tas reported, quoting the ministry.

“Crews fly missions to hit adversary ground targets and air defense systems. These high-precision weapons make it possible to perform combat tasks using various long-range targeting systems, ”said a deputy commander of an air squadron.

“Currently, a Kh-29T missile is shown. The last task it implemented was the attack on a stronghold located in the woods,” he added.

The report pointed out that navigators must undergo special training before using the Kh-29 missiles.

“We are targeting [it]then, once a link is established, the missile warhead acquires a target at a distance of, say, 20 to 30 kilometers,” said a navigator. He added that the missile then goes directly to the target.

The Su-34 fighter-bomber is intended for precise missile and bomb attacks on an enemy’s ground assets at operational and tactical depth in addition to striking an adversary’s air targets.

This aircraft was frequently used by Russia in Ukraine. While it undoubtedly gave the Russian forces an advantage in delivering accurate missiles and bombing, it also suffered casualties during the conflict.

Previously, a Ukrainian citizen would have beaten down a Russian Su-34 fighter jet with his rifle, for which the Ukrainian Armed Forces later presented him with a medal. In July, it was reported that Russia had accidentally shot down one of its powerful Su-34M fighter-bombers.

Sukhoi Su-34 – Wikiwand

The design of the Sukhoi Su-34, also known by its NATO codename Fullback, has been in the works for a very long time. It was proposed as a replacement for the Su-24 Fencer.

The Su-34, like most other contemporary Russian fighters, was derived from the air superiority Su-27 Flanker, which was intended to compete with the fourth-generation American F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle aircraft.

It took flight in April 1990. However, it was not put into service until March 2014.

Despite its air superiority origins, the design of the Su-34 was significantly modified to make it more effective in an attack role. It has a GSh-30-1 30mm internal cannon and 12 hardpoints under the wings and under the fuselage that can hold up to 17,630 pounds of ammunition.

Kh-29 air-to-surface missile

The Kh-29 is a Soviet-era air-to-surface missile with a range of 10 to 30 km. It is typically carried by tactical aircraft such as the Su-24, Su-30, MiG-29K, and “T/TM” variants of the Su-25, providing these aircraft with improved standoff capability.

It carries a massive 320 kg warhead and can be guided by laser, infrared, active radar or TV. It is similar to the AGM-65 Maverick missile used by the United States but has a much heavier warhead.

The Kh-29 can be deployed against ships up to 10,000 tons, hardened aircraft shelters and concrete runways in addition to combat targets and larger infrastructure such as commercial buildings, depots and bridges. The Kh-29TE is the extended range version of the missile.

File:Kh-29 air-to-surface guided missile.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Kh-29 air-to-surface guided missile – Wikimedia Commons

It is the only air-to-ground weapon developed by the Ukrainian design bureau Molniya. The missile began to take shape in the late 1970s, but Vympel, a Russian research and production company, then took over development of the Kh-29.

The missile was first fired in 1976, and after extensive testing the Kh-29 was approved for use in 1980.

The Molniya R-60 (AA-8 “Aphid”) and the Kh-29 share a basic aerodynamic design. The Kh-25 (AS-10 “Karen”) provided the laser guidance head, while the Kh-59 (AS-13 “Kingbolt”) provided the TV guidance, both attached to a sizable warhead.

It features a self-guiding passive television “eye” that broadcasts an image to an indicator on board the carrier aircraft prior to launch. In 1980, the Kh-29 was introduced into service with the Russian Air Force and subsequently widely exported.

Christine E. Phillips