Russia used its newest Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine on Friday to destroy a weapons storage site in the country’s west, the Russian defense ministry said.
Russia has never before admitted using the high-precision weapon in combat. State news agency RIA Novosti called it the first use of the Kinzhal hypersonic weapons during the conflict in Ukraine.
“The Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse containing missiles and aviation ammunition in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region,” the Russian defense ministry said Saturday.
Deliatyn is located outside the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, along the border with Romania.
A defense ministry spokesman declined to comment when reached by AFP.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has termed the Kinzhal (Dagger) missile “an ideal weapon” that flies at 10 times the speed of sound and can overcome air-defense systems.
The Kinzhal missile was one of an array of new weapons Putin unveiled in a state-of-the-nation address in 2018.
Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles which can deliver nuclear weapons, can fly at more than five times the speed of sound.
But ballistic missiles fly high into space in an arc to reach their target, while a hypersonic flies on a trajectory low in the atmosphere, potentially reaching a target more quickly.
Crucially, a hypersonic missile is maneuverable (like the much slower, often subsonic cruise missile), making it harder to track and shoot down.
While countries like the United States have developed systems designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles, the ability to track and take down a hypersonic missile remains a question.
The United States, China, Russia, and at least five other countries have been working on hypersonic technology. China and Russia, in contrast to the US, have focused on developing hypersonic missiles compatible with nuclear weapons, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Washington has raised concerns about China and Russia’s efforts to develop the technology, saying that it could raise tensions in the Indo-Pacific.
Source: Times of Israel