The Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-34 multipurpose fighter bomber utilized the cutting-edge Kinzhal hypersonic missile during its special military operation in Ukraine. A defense official disclosed this information to TASS, emphasizing the historic significance of the mission by stating that the first crew to successfully execute this task would be honored with state awards. Russia’s deployment of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile via its Su-34 fighter bomber during the special military operation in Ukraine underscores the country’s growing prowess in advanced military technology. This development has drawn the attention of the international community, prompting discussions about the implications of hypersonic weaponry in modern warfare.
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, commonly referred to as “Dagger,” is a Russian hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile. This advanced weapon boasts an impressive reported range of 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers (930 to 1,240 miles) and a staggering top speed of Mach 10. Moreover, the Kinzhal missile is adaptable for carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads and can be launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31K interceptors. These formidable missiles have been strategically deployed at airbases in Russia’s Southern Military District and Western Military District. The Kinzhal missile system represents Russia’s latest innovation, featuring hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles that are carried by specially equipped MiG-31K fighters-interceptors. This system combines a low radar signature with high maneuverability, making it a formidable weapon capable of striking ground and naval targets with precision.
The Kinzhal missile system entered experimental combat duty in December 2017. It made its official combat debut during a special military operation in Russia on March 18, 2022, marking a significant milestone in Russia’s military capabilities. During the Russo-Ukrainian War, the Russian military claimed to have used Kinzhal missiles effectively. They reported the destruction of an alleged underground weapons depot of the Ukrainian armed forces in Deliatyn on March 18, 2022, followed by the targeting of a fuel depot in Konstantinovka the next day. Even U.S. President Joe Biden acknowledged the significance of the Kinzhal missile, recognizing its potential as a potent weapon. However, he pointed out the inherent challenge in defending against such a formidable missile, emphasizing the importance of ongoing efforts to enhance defensive capabilities in the face of evolving military technology.
The Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO reporting name: Fullback) is a Soviet-origin Russian twin-engine, twin-seat, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft. It first flew in 1990, intended for the Soviet Air Forces, and it entered service in 2014 with the Russian Air Force. Based on the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter, the Su-34 has an armoured cockpit with side-by-side seating for its two pilots. The Su-34 is designed primarily for tactical deployment against ground and naval targets (tactical bombing/attack/interdiction roles, including against small and mobile targets) on solo and group missions in daytime and at night, under favourable and adverse weather conditions and in a hostile environment with counter-fire and electronic warfare (EW) counter-measures deployed, as well as for aerial reconnaissance.