Derived from the short-range 9M723 Iskander-M ballistic missile, the Kinzhal 9-S-7760 missile, an airborne ballistic weapon also designated (incorrectly) Kh-47M2 Kinjal, has long been presented by Moscow as the first hypersonic missile in service in the world.
Since its use in Ukraine, it has become apparent that the Kinzhal cannot be called hypersonic. Indeed, although it has a speed greater than Mach 5, it does not have the consubstantial maneuverability of this classification.
And in fact, on several occasions, the American MiM-104 Patriot PAC-3 ground-air systems, delivered to Ukraine by the United States and certain NATO allies, have managed to intercept terminally ill Kinzhals , something much more improbable if it had truly been hypersonic.
The Kinzhal missile remains a threat, hypersonic or not
Hypersonic or not, the Kinzhal remains a threat to Ukraine, as well as to NATO. Indeed, the systems capable of opposing it, such as the American Patriot PAC-3 or the Franco-Italian SAMP/T Mamba, only reach an altitude of 30 to 35 km, while the missile has, like the 'Iskander-M, a semi-ballistic trajectory causing it to evolve, over most of its flight, between 50 and 60 km altitude.
Thus, for the Patriot like the Mamba, interception of the 9-S-776 is only possible in its descending phase, when the missile passes below an altitude of 35 km. It is therefore necessary for the anti-aircraft battery to be positioned close to the target targeted by the missile, of the order of a few tens of kilometers maximum.
The number of potential targets being much greater than the number of Patriot and Mamba anti-aircraft batteries, we easily understand to what extent the Kinzhal, and its range of more than 1,000 km allowing it to be dropped from Russian airspace to reaching all of Ukraine, remained a real problem for Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense.
Fortunately for Kyiv, until now, the Russian air forces only had a few MIG-31Ks specially modified to deploy the missile, while its implementation from the Tu-22M3 bomber was once mentioned, but has not been not yet observed against Ukraine.
The Kinzhal on Su-34
But things might have changed recently. Indeed, according to the Tass agency , a Su-34 fighter bomber would have, for the first time, launched a Kinzhal missile against Ukraine. Still according to the Russian agency, the crew of the aircraft will be duly rewarded for this first.
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