Russia fired hypersonic Kinzhal missiles into Kiev on Tuesday, with Ukraine saying it shot down all six, and Russia claiming one got through air defenses to destroy a US-built Patriot surface-to-air anti-missile defense system.
Reuters was unable to verify either claim, but here are some key facts about the Kinzhal, which means “dagger” in Russian:
- It is an air-launched ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads. Ukraine said six of them were fired on Tuesday.
- It has a reported range of 1,500 to 2,000 km (930 to 1,240 mi) while carrying a payload of 480 kg. It can reach speeds up to Mach 10 (12,250 km/h).
- The Kinzhal is one of six “next-generation” weapons unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in a speech in March 2018. He has said that these weapons can penetrate both existing and future missile defense systems.
- Vladimir Putin said in December 2021, two months before the invasion of Ukraine, that Russia was the world leader in hypersonic missiles and that by the time other countries caught up, it would likely have developed technology to counter these new weapons. “In our advanced developments, we are definitely the leaders,” he said.
- Russia sent fighter jets armed with Kinzhal missiles to Syria for the first time in 2021, military analysts say.
- The Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have fired a Kinzhal missile at an ammunition depot in southwestern Ukraine on March 19, 2022, the first known use of the weapon in combat. Since then, it has fired Kinzhal missiles into Ukraine on several other occasions.
- On May 6, Ukraine said for the first time that it had shot down a Kinzhal using a Patriot system. It was not clear whether the “Western” systems Kiev used against Kinzhals on Tuesday were also patriots.
Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies
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