Russian Navy MiG-31BM Interceptor Aircraft armed with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile.
Russian Navy MiG-31BM Interceptor Aircraft armed with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile.

Russia Reveals Kinzhal Hypersonic Missile Used Three Times During Special Operation in Ukraine

The Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu announced that the Russian Armed Forces used the Kinzhal hypersonic missile three times during the special operation in Ukraine. The Minister reminded that the Kinzhal is able to reach speed up to more than 10 Mach, changing the trajectory both in vertical and horizontal planes on the way. According to the defense minister, no such missile in the world has such characteristics as the Kinzhal: hypersonic, and with such speed, and with such penetrating capabilities. The Kinzhal is able to reach speed up to more than 10 Mach, changing the trajectory both in vertical and horizontal planes on the way. In general, it is virtually impossible to detect it, and we strike particularly important targets with it.

The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Dagger, NATO reporting name Killjoy) is a Russian nuclear-capable hypersonic aero-ballistic air-to-surface missile. It has a claimed range of more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi), Mach 12 speed (2.5 mi/s), 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 Tupolev Tu-22M3 (NATO reporting name: Blinder) supersonic bombers or Mikoyan MiG-31K (NATO reporting name: Foxhound) interceptors. It has been deployed at airbases in Russia’s Southern Military District and Western Military District. The Kinzhal entered service in December 2017 and is one of the six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2018.

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The missile is designed to hit NATO warships posing a threat to strategic missile systems in European Russia and to destroy NATO missile defence systems, ballistic missile defense ships and land objects close to the Russian borders. It is allegedly designed to overcome any known or planned NATO air or missile defense systems including the MIM-104 Patriot, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Aegis Combat System. Rather than using the more recent hypersonic glide and scramjet missile designs, it uses the more classical ballistic missile technology at simply greater speeds. The missile overall design is shared with the 9K720 Iskander and the guidance section is modified for this missile. It can hit static and mobile targets such as aircraft carriers.

Because it flies at hypersonic speeds within the atmosphere, the air pressure in front of it forms a plasma cloud as it moves, absorbing radio waves (Plasma stealth). The high speed of the Kinzhal gives it better target-penetration characteristics than lighter, slower cruise-missiles. With advanced maneuvering capabilities, high precision and hypersonic speed, some sources give it the name “carrier killer” due to its alleged ability to disable and possibly even sink a 100,000 ton supercarrier with a single strike. With a mass of 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) and a speed of Mach 12 (including 500 kg warhead and the other parts of the missile), the Kinzhal has more than 16.9 gigajoules of kinetic energy, or the equivalent of 4,000 kg of TNT.

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