What are Hypersonic Missiles? Russia’s newest weapon in the war in Ukraine.

The Russian military has claimed to have fired hypersonic missiles twice during its invasion of Ukraine, apparently destroying a weapons depot during the month-long attack.

On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed it had struck underground warehouse for missiles and ammunition in a village bordering Romania, and on Sunday that it had destroyed a fuel depot near the southern city of Mykolaiv.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed the attack used his latest Kinzhal, or “dagger,” hypersonic missile, in Ukraine.

“The Kinzhal aerospace missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse with missiles and aviation ammunition in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region,” Konashenkov claimed.

RIA Novosti, a Russian state news agency, said the attacks marked the first use of next-generation weapons since Russian troops were deployed to Ukraine on Feb. 24.

However, on March 9, the Ukrainian National Guard shared a photo of an unexploded hypersonic missile in the city of Kramatorsk in the breakaway region of Donetsk. Reports have not verified whether it was a “dagger” missile.

A short-range hypersonic ballistic missile.

A short-range hypersonic ballistic missile, according to Ukrainian authorities, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, in a photo released on March 9 (Press office of the National Guard of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)

‘Ideal weapon’

The advanced missile, which Russian President Vladimir Putin previously described as an “ideal weapon,” was one of several new weapons he unveiled in his 2018 State of the Nation speech. During that speech, Putin boasted that the missiles could hit almost any point. around the world and dodge the United States missile defense shield.

It is believed that Russia first used the hypersonic weapon in support of Bashar Assad during the Syrian Civil War in 2016, although it has not been confirmed whether it was the exact Kinzhal model.

The missile, designed to be launched from a MiG fighter jet, can fly at 10 times the speed of sound and unlike other missiles, it can change course during its flight, making it impossible for air defense systems to shoot it down. The Kinzhal missile can also be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

In comparison, while the US Tomahawk cruise missile can travel up to 550 mph, the Kinzhal can travel at 7,672 mph. The French Navy and the British Royal Navy have jointly developed their own hypersonic missile since 2011, which is expected to be ready by 2030.

Ukrainian officials confirmed the Russian attacks over the weekend, but said the type of missile used has not been confirmed.

Unconfirmed Reports

A Russian Air Force MiG-31K jet carries a high-precision hypersonic aero-ballistic missile.

A 2018 Russian Air Force MiG-31K jet carries a high-precision hypersonic aero-ballistic Kinzhal missile. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

According to reports, doubts have been raised about Russia’s use of the ballistic missile. A report suggested that the lack of secondary explosions from the attack on an ammunition warehouse in western Ukraine is suspicious. “There is also a distinct lack of secondary explosions, as you would expect when rocket fuel and explosives boil up,” the online magazine The War Zone noted on Saturday.

The magazine also questioned how an Orlan-10 — an unmanned aerial vehicle known as a drone — was able to fly over the target area to film the attack. If a maneuverable hypersonic missile was required for the attack by Ukraine’s air defense systems, how could a drone manage to film the attack and get away safely?

Russian analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the missile would change little on the ground in Ukraine, other than “giving it a certain psychological and propaganda effect.” He added that its use may suggest that the Russian military’s weapons are drying up. defense strategy researcher Joseph Henrotin echoed Felgenhauer’s point and suggested on Twitter that Russia could run out of weapons. Henrotin also claimed that Putin would have used the nuclear missile to increase the stakes of the war.

On Saturday, the UN human rights agency said at least 847 civilians, including 155 men, 119 women, 21 boys and seven girls, have been killed since Feb. 24, but the actual numbers are “significantly higher”.

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