What are the characteristics of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile?

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While the Russian offensive Ukraine bogged down, the government of Vladimir Putin has raised international concern by saying that the army had shelled two Ukrainian positions from “hypersonic” missiles. On March 19, 2022, a powerful strike destroyed an ammunition depot near the border with Romania, in western Ukraine, and a second rocket fell on a fuel depot near Nikolaev, in the south of the country. Both attacks mark the first use of hypersonic munitions in a theater of war, garnering media and pundit attention. Russian Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles are theoretically capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 9 and covering distances of up to 2,000 kilometers, potentially making it possible to reach a large number of targets at a great distance.

Kinzhal is one of the Russian hypersonic missiles.

By definition, a supersonic missile is capable of reaching speeds greater than Mach 5, 6174 km/h, i.e. five times faster than sound speed (1234.8 km/h). indawn 2000s, many military forces started upgrading your equipmentincluding the US, China and Russia. The dagger (or Kinzhal, “dagger” in Russian) is part of this new generation of ammunition. The Kinzhal architecture is based on the Iskander system, consisting of two ballistic missiles (M and E) and a short-to-medium range cruise missile (K), developed by the Soviet Union since the late 1980s and put into service in 2006. .

Introduced in 2018, Kinzhal is an air-to-surface munition deployed from two aircraft: a MiG31 fighter-interceptor and a Tupolev Tu22M supersonic bomber. The Russian “Dagger” can deliver so-called conventional strikes, as was observed on March 19 near Ivan-Frankivsk and Nikolaev, and is also capable of delivering nuclear warheads. The high velocities achieved by the Kinzhal missile make it nearly impossible to intercept and make it harder to detect, in fact more unpredictable.

Russia has two more hypersonic weapons: the 3M22 cruise missile. Zirconlaunched from land or ship, as well as glider Vanguard (or Yu-74), meanwhile, was sent with a ballistic missile. Both the Zircon and the Vanguard are agile, giving them the added ability to evade defensive systems.

Hypersonic weapons: what are the risks?

Shortly after the announcement of the Russian Ministry of Defense about the use of two Kinzhal missiles, the concern stormed social media, fueled by numerous alarmist articles. The technical characteristics of the munitions and the predominant use of them by the Russian armed forces have revived fears of the Cold War in the face of the risk that a conflict would be between NATO and Russian military forces. Russia’s stance is designed to be intimidating about its military capabilities: Vladimir Putin and his underlings have brandished a (barely veiled) nuclear threat card during various speeches, and the strong military presence in the Kaliningrad enclave is a starting point. pressure extra for the Kremlin.

However, while Russia is proud of the use of Kinzhal missiles, political scientist and editor International Defense and Security (ISD), Joseph Enrotinrecalled on Twitter that ” the hypersonic qualities of the “Dagger” are doubtful “. From many experts explain that Russia’s use of such munitions could be due to the depletion of Iskander ballistic missiles, field testing, or an attempt to toughen the tone on the part of Moscow, while the conflict is gradually turning against Russia. In addition, a video published by the Russian Ministry of Defense turned out to be a fake, showing an attack on an ammunition depot in the west of the country, which actually shows a missile launch at a military base located in the Donbass.

NATO estimates on March 15 show that Russia has carried out more than 700 strikes since the invasion began on February 24. During the month of the war, many important cities, such as Kharkov or Mariupol, were devastated by intense Russian attacks. Around 1,000 civilians have died since the conflict began, according to the UN.

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