The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation announced that Russian armed forces have used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles to destroy an underground military storage facility in the West of Ukraine. Deliatyn, a village in the foothills of the picturesque Carpathian mountains, is located outside the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. The region of Ivano-Frankivsk shares a 50-kilometre long border with Nato member Romania. This is the first time Russia used its newest Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in Ukraine on Friday to destroy a weapons storage site in the country’s west.
Citing a source, Interfax-Russia reported that Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation said,”On 18 March, hypersonic aeroballistic missiles were launched from the Kinzhal aviation missile system and a large underground warehouse of missiles and aviation ammunition of Ukrainian troops in the village of Delyatyn, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, was destroyed.”
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“Dagger”) is a Russian nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM). It has a claimed range of more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi), Mach 10 speed, and an ability to perform evasive maneuvers at every stage of its flight. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and can be launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31K interceptors. It has been deployed at airbases in Russia’s Southern Military District. The Kinzhal is one of the six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2018. In June 2021, Russian MiG-31K fired Kinzhal on a ground target in Syria.
Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles which can deliver nuclear weapons, can fly at more than five times the speed of sound. But ballistic missiles fly high into space in an arc to reach their target, while a hypersonic flies on a trajectory low in the atmosphere, potentially reaching a target more quickly. Crucially, a hypersonic missile is maneuverable like the much slower, often subsonic cruise missile, making it harder to track and shoot down. While countries like the United States have developed systems designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles, the ability to track and take down a hypersonic missile remains a question.