What you need to know about the hypersonic missiles Russia uses in Ukraine

A Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile carried by a Mikoyan MiG-31K (AFP) (Vadim Savitsky/)

Russia claims it is using hypersonic missiles against Ukrainea statement that the president Joe Biden confirmed Monday at the quarterly meeting of executive directors of the business round table. These types of missiles travel at more than five times the speed of sound. and have not been used in combat before.

A spokesman for Ministry of Defence Russian said on Saturday that Russia had used a hypersonic missile Kinzhalor “dagger”, at the end of last week to destroy an ammunition depot in western Ukraine.

On Sunday, the Kremlin said his forces had launched hypersonic missiles a second time, this time from airspace over crimeadestroying a fuel storage facility in the Ukrainian region of Mykolayivaccording to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry.

Weapons specialists and the governments of United States and the United Kingdom have downplayed the hypersonic capabilities of Russia and to the degree of importance of its use on the battlefield.

What are these missiles? And what would it mean if Russia used them? This is what you need to know.

What are hypersonic missiles?

Hypersonic weapons fly at least Mach 5, that is, five times the speed of sound.

There are two main types: the missiles cruiser hypersonicswhich work with scramjets -high-speed motors-; and the hypersonic glide vehicleswhich are launched from a rocket but slide towards their target.

The Kinzhala maneuverable air-launched ballistic missile, is a Modified version of Russia’s Iskander missile. “The Iskander missile has already been used in the conflict [Rusia-Ucrania] several times, but is launched from the ground. It’s very similar“, said Tom Karakprincipal investigator of Center for Strategic and International Studiesa think thank you from Washingtonand director of the Missile Defense Project.

An aviator checks a Russian Air Force MiG-31 fighter before a flight with the Kinzhal hypersonic missile during a drill at an unknown location in Russia, in this still image taken from video released on February 19, 2022 (Reuters)
An aviator checks a Russian Air Force MiG-31 fighter before a flight with the Kinzhal hypersonic missile during a drill at an unknown location in Russia, in this still image taken from video released on February 19, 2022 (Reuters) (RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY/)

karakoco-author of a report entitled “Complex Air Defense: Countering the Hypersonic Missile Threat” (Complex Air Defense: Countering the Threat of Hypersonic Missiles), said other types of missiles enter the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. What people mean when they say hypersonic is a weapon”which is capable of maintaining hypersonic speeds for a long time“, said.

the missiles Iskander and Kinzhal they can follow low trajectories and are manoeuvrable.

That makes it harder to figure out where the missile is going, what the intended target is, and what the trajectory is.which “complicates defense work,” he said.

What distinguishes the Kinzhal hypersonic missile?

According to claims in the Russian media, the Kinzhal You can reach Mach 10. Russia tested the weapon in July 2018, launched from a fighter MiG-31 modified, according to U.S. intelligence cited in a report by the U.S. Research Service Congress published on March 17. It hit a target at a distance of about 800 kilometers.

The report of CRS states that the Kinzhal could eventually be equipped with a nuclear warhead, and is capable of hitting ground and naval targets, though he cautioned that the weapon’s performance characteristics have not been verified by US intelligence and that analysts are skeptical. The missiles are designed to evade sophisticated defenses.

Putin unveiled the Kinzhal during a nationally televised speech ahead of the 2018 Russian presidential election.

At that time, the Pentagon downplayed the speech Putinsaying that the evaluations of United States had already taken into account the weapons capabilities of Russiaaccording Guardian.

It is a huge misperception to think that these things cannot be defeated, they cannot be defended.“, said karako. “After all, they are only missiles”.

Which countries have hypersonic missiles?

Russia, China and United States have the most advanced hypersonic weapons programs, but other countries like Japan, Germany, India and Australia are also developing them, according to the report of the CRS.

Russia has been pursuing hypersonic weapons since the 1980s, but has accelerated its efforts in response to the withdrawal of United States the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and missile defense deployments United States in the United States and in Europe, says the CRS report. Besides of Kinzhal, Russia is working on two other hypersonic weapons programs: the 3M22 Tsirkon (or Zircon) and the advance.

United States has been researching hypersonic weapons since the early 2000s and is developing them under the program Conventional Prompt Strike of the Marineas well as in other programs that depend on the Air forcesthe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the army.

(C) The Washington Post.-


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