Russia’s hypersonic weapons: characteristics and types

On March 19, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that the Russian military has used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time to hit military targets in Ukraine.

According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, the Kinzhal hypersonic missile complex destroyed an underground storehouse carrying Ukrainian army missiles and aircraft ammunition in the town of Delyatyn, Ivano region, on March 18. Frankivsk.

Russia’s hypersonic missile versions are “invincible,” according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The enemy will find it tough to intercept because to the high speed and complicated flying trajectory.

A hypersonic missile is one that travels at a speed of 5-10 times the speed of sound, or Mach 5 – Mach 10. Furthermore, as compared to the speed of sound, this missile flies at a lower orbit. Low-orbit ballistic missiles are a type of conventional ballistic missile. When the enemy radar picks up the signal, the missile is too close to the target, and there isn’t enough time to intercept it.

Hypersonic missiles also have a significant range advantage. Some models, like the Kinzhal, have a range of 1,500-2,000 kilometers, while others have a range of around 1,000 km. Many European capitals will be in the effective striking zone of hypersonic missiles if Russia installs this weapon in the Kaliningrad Basin.

Russia currently has three types of hypersonic missiles in its arsenal.

The Avangard missile was Russia’s first hypersonic weapon. Between February 2015 and June 2016, Avangard was tested on the UR-100UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missile. According to information given by the Russian Ministry of Defense, during a successful test in December 2018, Avangard attained speeds of Mach 27 (almost 33,000 km/h) and attacked targets at a distance of 6,000 km, making it a “unstoppable” weapon.

Avangard – Russia’s first hypersonic missile system. Photo: Tass

By December 2019, Avangard had been officially accepted into the Russian army, with the first missile regiment equipped with the system being deployed in the Orenburg region of southern Russia, near Kazakhstan’s border. Avangard is also a nuclear-weapons-carrying missile.

Kinzhal Missile: The Kinzhal missile complex, which includes the MiG-31K combat aircraft and the Kh-47M Kinzhal hypersonic missile, is a new Russian aviation missile complex. Kinzhal is a Russian word that means “blade.” The Kh-47M Kinzhal has a range of 1,500-2,000 kilometers and can travel at Mach 10. (10 times faster than the speed of sound).

Kinzhal hypersonic missile equipped on Mig-31 aircraft. Photo: Russian Ministry of Defense

The Kinzhal rocket speeds to 4,900km/h (Mach 4) after being launched from the aircraft platform and can reach a maximum speed of 12,350km/h (Mach 10). Russia’s latest hypersonic missile has a payload of up to 480 kg and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

On March 1, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin made the first announcement concerning Kinzhal. He described it as a “ideal” weapon capable of breaching missile defense systems. This aviation missile complex is believed to have been deployed in Russia’s Southern Military District and will be deployed in the remaining military regions soon.

Kinzhal is one of Russia’s six new-generation weapons, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, and it falls into the category of “no rival of the same type.” The Kinzhal air defense complex, which has a good depth attack capability, will offer the Russian army a significant advantage if war breaks out.

The Zircon missile is Russia’s most recent hypersonic missile, which can be launched from submarines and surface ships, giving it a significant advantage in naval combat. With a speed of Mach 9, the first formal test with Zircon was conducted in October 2020, hitting targets at sea and on land.

The Zircon missile was launched from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate during a test in July 2021. Photo: AP

Russia successfully conducted Zircon tests at the end of December 2021, launching 10 missiles from a frigate and two more from a submarine. The missile test was dubbed “a magnificent event for the country” by President Putin, who described it as “an important step forward” in Russia’s defense capabilities.

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