Why is it so difficult to intercept Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonic missile?

Many US generals have to admit that the country and its allies do not yet possess any means to intercept Russian hypersonic missiles.

Missile defense systems of the US and its allies are almost incapable of intercepting Kinzhal missiles. 
(Photo: The Drive)

The above concerns of the US generals are completely justified when it is impossible to use conventional air defense systems to prevent a supersonic attack missile attack.

At the present time, Russia is the leading country in the race to develop hypersonic weapons between superpowers, the first hypersonic missile model to be put into service by Russia is Kh-47M Kinzhal – nicknamed “Knife” dagger” from the end of 2017.

Kinzhal itself is an advanced attack missile complex, a combination of the improved MiG-31K supersonic interceptor and the Kh-47M Kinzhal hypersonic missile. Kinzhal’s effective range is up to 2,000 km, with a flight speed of Mach 10. This Russian missile complex is designed to destroy land and sea targets.

The selection of the MiG-31 as a vehicle for the Kinzhal deployment was not a random choice. This Soviet-developed supersonic long-range interceptor is capable of all-weather operations, and is considered an unrivaled combat vehicle in its class.

Ivan Konovalov, director of the 21st Century Technology Support Fund, said that the MiG-31 is not a new fighter in the Russian air force, but it is still chosen to deploy advanced offensive weapons such as Kinzhal. This comes from the fact that the MiG-31 can take off faster than other fighters and has a much higher ceiling (up to 25,000 m).

Konovalov said that at a ceiling of 25,000m, the MiG-31 is capable of hitting targets on the ground and at sea from a distance of up to 2,000km with Kinzhal missiles.

“The main feature of this missile is the speed and the distance with which it reaches the target. Neither foreign nor Russian modern air defense system can intercept threats from a distance of 2,000 km ,” Konovalov said.

Close-up of Kinzhal hypersonic missile.

According to Konovalov, Kinzhal can accelerate to Mach 10 (about 12,240 km/h) and is almost impossible to intercept by current air defense systems.

“For an anti-aircraft missile to be able to shoot down a target in the sky, it must first fly faster than the target and be able to intercept the threat based on its trajectory. But overall, no missile can match Kinzhal’s speed,” Konovalov analyzed.

Theoretically, after being launched from MiG-31K, Kinzhal will accelerate to 4,900 km / h (Mach 4) and can reach a maximum speed of Mach 10. Russia’s new supersonic missile can carry a head conventional or nuclear-tipped ammunition, with a weight of up to 500 kg.

Hypersonic speed also increases the damage of the missile. A rocket weighing about 3 tons when descending at a speed of 3 km / s like Khinzal will create a huge kinetic energy equivalent to the energy of 4 tons of TNT explosives, which can break a large warship in half without causing damage. no detonation warhead required.

On the other hand, Kinzhal is a new type of attack missile, which does not follow a fixed trajectory but can change its flight trajectory continuously, so missile defense systems cannot calculate its flight trajectory, causing interception is almost impossible.

Russian President Vladimir Putin first announced information about Kinzhal on March 1, 2018. He called it an “ideal” weapon that could penetrate missile defense systems. This advanced attack missile complex is currently only in service with the Southern Military District of Russia and will appear in the remaining military districts in the near future.

The Russian Ministry of Defense lists Kinzhal as one of six new-generation weapons of Russia and belongs to the category of “no rival of the same type”. With a good depth of attack, the Kinzhal air defense complex will give the Russian army a great advantage in all wars.

In addition to Kinzhal, the Russian military also developed two other hypersonic missile models, Avangard and 3M22 Zircon.

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