A tweet posted by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirms that Ukrainian air defenders have shot down a Russian Kinzhal hypersonic aeroballistic missile for the first time since the attacks began. The operators of the Patriot Air defense system did it.
Earlier, a news portal, Defense Express, claimed to have obtained photographic evidence of debris, including a damaged nose fairing, from a Kh-47 Kinzhal missile launched by a Russian MiG-31 in an attempted attack on Kyiv.
Besides Shahed kamikaze drones, missiles, “probably of a ballistic type,” were also utilized in the attack, according to a report released by the Kyiv City Military Administration on Thursday, May 4.
According to official reports, the Administration stated that “all enemy missiles were destroyed” during the attack. However, the report claims to have obtained photos of missile remnants from its own sources, which suggest that the non-explosive remnants fell on a stadium in the city.
One of the images captured after the attack on Kyiv shows remains of the missile, including the nose fairing, which appears to correspond to the design of the Kh-47 Kinzhal missile.
The debris may have come from other missiles. However, the report added that the X-22 missile, which is a possible alternative, features a nose design with oval transitions, unlike the wreckage captured in the photos, which has an abrupt diameter transition.
Moreover, the heavier construction of the Iskander ballistic missile does not match that of the downed missile. In addition, it has been speculated that the Patriot defense system was responsible for the hypersonic missile’s intercept.
In April, Ukraine received US-made Patriot missiles, which provided the country with much-needed defense against Russian airstrikes that have caused significant damage to civilian infrastructure and cities.
This handover marked an important step in Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its military capabilities in the face of the ongoing conflict with Russia.
Kyiv Post journalist Jason Jay Smart shared a video on Twitter that supposedly shows one of these missiles being destroyed.
He Tweeted: When You Hear Ukraine Aid Isn’t Worth Your Taxes: This Western Air Defense Just Saved (Ukrainian) Civilian Lives. This air defense is in Kyiv, thanks to your taxes.
Since the Kh-47 Kinzhal missile is notorious for its high-speed maneuverability and can present a substantial challenge to traditional missile defense systems, if rumors of the interception are accurate, this would be a remarkable achievement.
Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Yuriy Ignat had earlier said, “I have already refuted it a thousand times; you should have seen it yesterday.” The use of ballistic missiles was possible, but none were reported.
A Ukrainian Telegram group that reported on Ignat’s remark added, “Air command does not confirm the media reports about the downing of the Kinzhal missile over Kyiv.”
However, as the Ministry of Defense reported, the hypersonic missile was successfully intercepted.
Kinzhal hypersonic system
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile is an air-launched ballistic missile developed by Russia, believed to be based on the ground-launched 9K720 Iskander-M system.
Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced six “next-generation” weapons in March 2018, one of which was the Kinzhal missile. Russian MiG-31K fighter interceptors, renowned for their outstanding ability to strike ground targets and naval targets, carry the missile.
The Kinzhal missile boasts advanced features such as radar stealth and high maneuverability, making it a formidable weapon and a significant advance in Russia’s military capabilities.
According to TASS, the missile can reach speeds of up to ten times that of sound and can target places more than 2,000 kilometers away.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin confirmed in a video posted to the Kremlin website in February that the country would keep making the Kinzhal airborne hypersonic missile in large quantities.
The missile can break through any air or anti-ballistic defense thanks to its advanced maneuvering capabilities. In addition, it can carry conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 500 kg.
Since December 2017, the Kinzhal has been combat-ready in the Russian Armed Forces.
The Russian Defense Ministry boasted that it launched a Kinzhal missile attack on an ammunition depot in southwestern Ukraine on March 19, 2022. That was the first deployment of the weapon in actual combat.
Many experts are skeptical of the efficacy of Moscow’s purportedly better Kinzhal hypersonic missile technology.
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) concluded in 2021 that Russia’s hypersonic capabilities, while impressive, maybe more suited as a psychological weapon than a military one.