The Russian Kinzhal missile now arms the Su-34, after the Mig-31K

Derived from the 9M723 Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile, the 9-S-7760 Kinzhal missile, an airborne ballistic weapon also (improperly) designated Kh-47M2 Kinjal, has long been touted 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 surface-to-air systems MiM-104 Patriot PAC-3, delivered to Ukraine by the United States and certain NATO allies, are managed to intercept terminally ill Kinzhal, something much more improbable if it had really 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, whereas the missile has, like the 'Iskander-M, a semi-ballistic trajectory causing it to evolve, for the majority of its flight, between 50 and 60 km altitude.

The Kinzhal missile was intercepted by the American Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft system.
The Kinzhal missile was intercepted by the American Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft system.

Thus, for the Patriot like the Mamba, the 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 aimed at by the missile, of the order of a few tens of kilometers at most.

The number of potential targets being far greater than the number of Patriot and Mamba anti-aircraft batteries, it is easy to understand how important the Kinzhal, and its range of more than 1 km allowing it to be dropped from Russian airspace to reach all of Ukraine, remained a real problem for Ukrainian anti-aircraft defence.

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.

Russia Prepares to Accept Kh 47M Kinzhal Hypersonic Missile into Service 2 Fighter Aviation | Hypersonic Weapons and Missiles | Russian-Ukrainian conflict

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