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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Putin Is Now Using More ‘Invincible’ Hypersonic Missiles in Ukraine

Hypersonic Missiles
A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet equipped with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile flies over Red Square during a rehearsal for a flypast, part of a military parade marking the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in central Moscow, Russia May 7, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Putin is using hypersonic missiles again in Ukraine – While Russia commemorated its World War II victory over Nazi Germany with Victory Day Festivities on May 9, Russian forces bombed the strategic Ukrainian port city of Odesa. Russian President Vladimir Putin laid flowers on a monument that salutes Odessa, the “hero city.” Hours later, Kinzhal ground-attack ultra-fast missiles flew Odesa’s way. The raid hit a shopping mall and hotel, and it killed at least one Ukrainian. 

Amazing Cynicism

The Kinzhal bombardment also featured the Soviet-era Kh-22 cruise missile. Up to seven munitions were launched against Odessa. The Russians were trying to punish the city’s residents while European Council President Charles Michel visited. Michel was forced to take cover during the attack.

“Putin could not capture Odessa, and so he has started to destroy its infrastructure,” Ukrainian politician and Odesa resident Oleksiy Honcharenko told Michael Wasiura of Newsweek. “Local residents are amazed at the cynicism,” Honcharenko added. “Yesterday, with one hand, Putin placed flowers on the pedestal of the hero city Odessa, and with the other hand he thrust the dagger into the back of Odessa.”

The Russians have long set their sights on Odessa as a target for invasion. Many residents refuse to evacuate, even though Russian ships are threatening the port.

Hypersonic Missiles – An “Invincible” Weapon?

The people of Odessa should take heed of Russian high-speed weapons such as the Kinzhal, which can travel over MACH 10 and make flight adjustments on its approach to targets. The Kinzhal, or “Dagger,” is not technically a hypersonic weapon, despite its high speed — it does not use technologies such as boost-glide or scramjet that define the two main categories of hypersonic missiles. But the Kinzhal is fearsome just the same, and Odessa’s defenses have no answers for it.

Putin believes the Kinzhal is invincible. It can be fired from a MiG-31K Foxhound warplane. There are reportedly six Foxhounds that are modified to carry it out of a base in Southwest Russia. It can also be launched from a Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber inside Russian air space.

Hypersonic Missiles Alarming Headlines and Nuclear Reminders

The Russians are likely to use the Kinzhal for propaganda effect, and not as a main feature of attack. The missiles are expensive, and they are not produced in high numbers like other cruise missiles in Russia’s arsenal. The Kinzhal is nuclear-capable, and Putin is likely reminding the world that he can target any city in Ukraine he wants with a nuclear missile that Ukraine’s air defenses cannot stop.

The Kinzhal has a maximum range of 1,242 miles. It is about 24 feet long with a 3-foot diameter, and it carries a 1,058-pound warhead. The missile has been in service since 2017. Some analysts say it is based on the ground-launched Iskander missile being used in Ukraine. The Kinzhal has a flight trajectory that is difficult for air defense interceptors to shoot down.

The Kinzhal launch on Victory Day can be seen as a symbolic measure. It made no difference in Odessa. But look for more standoff missile attacks against civilian targets in the port city using older, cheaper, and conventional Soviet-era cruise missiles. 

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Andrew M. Winter

    May 11, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    The range of the missile includes the range of the aircraft carrying it.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kh-47M2_Kinzhal

    So the page says if it’s on a MIG 31 it has a range over 2000km but if carried by the backfire it has a range over 3000km.

    Here is the spec section of the Wikipedia page for the MIG 31
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan_MiG-31#Specifications_(MiG-31)

    It has a “range” of 3000km IF it has two drop tanks on. It should be noted the Kinszhal is HEAVY. It is derived from Iskander. The warhead is over 1000 pounds, but the entire missile is 8000 or so pounds. The MIG31 cant carry drop tanks and the Kinzhal.

    Now lets look at the “comabat range”. That should be the subsonic range listed because external stores generally prevent Mach speeds. So we subtract the 1450km combat range from the “over 2000km” total range of the system and get “over?” 500 km for the missile itself. Which is pretty much what we would expect, given that the Iskander has a range of 400 – 500 km

    In the end if Russian planes are launching from Russian Airspace they have a limited range of 400 – 500km from wherever they launched from within Russian airspace.

    This extremely short range, for a “super missile”, once it’s launched is one of the biggest weak points of the system.

  2. aldol11

    May 11, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    running out of cheaper precision weapons, scraping the barrel

  3. Illurion

    May 11, 2022 at 9:33 pm

    Ukraine should steal just ONE of these Russian Missiles, and send it back to Russia aimed at a PRECISION TARGET.

    That target is THE KREMLIN.

  4. Stefan Stackhouse

    May 11, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    Demonstrating to an opponent that you have A weapon is one thing. Having it in large enough numbers to use on a sustained and decisive basis is something else entirely.

  5. Tony

    May 11, 2022 at 11:24 pm

    “But look for more standoff missile attacks against civilian targets in the port city using older, cheaper, and conventional Soviet-era cruise missiles. ”

    Civilian targets like the shopping mall that was being used as a munitions warehouse.

  6. ricardo2000

    May 12, 2022 at 12:08 am

    Ernest Hemingway: “Anyone who loves freedom owes such a debt to the Red Army that it can never be repaid.”

    The stupidity of this pompous article is breathtaking. What can anyone expect from buttheads who work for the so-called American Enterprise Institute?

    William Casey (CIA Director 1981-1987): “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    Henry Kissinger (Washington Post): “For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.”

    Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

    John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873): “I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally conservative.”

    • mcswell

      May 12, 2022 at 6:35 pm

      While you’re at it, why don’t you include some quotes from the Roman Empire? About as relevant to the current situation. Hemingway, for example, was talking about the Soviet Army–not the present Russian excuse for an army–and in 1942.

      Oh, and for the Kissinger quote, why didn’t you mention his sentence immediately before the one you quoted? The one that said, “Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious.”

  7. Alex

    May 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Why in quotes? Someone was able, at least in theory, to intercept hypersonic missiles? Or is it just envy that Russia has a lot of hypersonic missiles in service and in mass production, while the United States does not? That’s how you would write.

    OK. In Ukraine, 10,000 Russian and 1,000 Russian tanks are destroyed every day. It’s not even funny to read, but it’s not interesting anymore. Let’s talk about the collapsed Russian economy:

    The Russian ruble has become the best world currency in 2022. On Thursday, May 12, Bloomberg reported.

    According to the latest data, the ruble has grown by 11 percent against the dollar since the beginning of 2022. Thus, it has become the leader among the 31 major currencies monitored by the agency’s experts.

    The strengthening of the currency came after the measures taken by the Russian government against the backdrop of Western sanctions, writes Bloomberg. It is clarified that the authorities introduced capital controls, and also obliged exporters to sell foreign exchange earnings. In particular, in March, the President of Russia announced a new procedure for paying for gas by European consumers.

    As similar examples, the authors of the article cite the Turkish lira and the Argentine peso, which failed to achieve maximum growth rates after the decisions of the governments of these countries. The Russian currency, on the contrary, responded well to the measures taken, Bloomberg experts conclude.

    Only facts, not squeals and fantasies of Bandera Nazis and Slavophobes.

  8. Pagar

    May 12, 2022 at 11:51 am

    I wish Mr Putin could ask his top local commander of the Russ missile force to get one of the older missiles, like the SS-19, remove the nuke warhead, put in a stinkbomb, like a concentrated hydrogen sulphide stinker from the local municipal cesspool, and launch it at a city like Lyiv.

    It’ll send Zelensky scurrying over to Poland and won’t dare return until the rotten eggs smell has worn off ! ! !

  9. Alex

    May 12, 2022 at 11:52 am

    Russia’s oil revenues have grown by 50% since the beginning of the year, despite trade restrictions imposed after the start of a special operation in Ukraine, writes Bloomberg citing a report by the International Energy Agency.

    “Russia has earned approximately $20 billion monthly since the beginning of 2022 from cumulative sales of oil and petroleum products at an export level of 8 million barrels per day,” the document says. As the IEA noted, supplies from Russia continue to flow despite the fact that the EU is currently discussing a ban on energy imports, and major international oil companies Shell and Total Energy promise to stop purchases.

    Russian energy resources are in high demand in Asia, especially in India and China. Experts emphasize that the reduction in the supply of refined products from Russia, such as diesel fuel, fuel oil and naphtha, has exacerbated tensions on world markets. At the same time, stocks of so-called middle distillates (some types of petroleum products that are obtained as a result of the distillation of hydrocarbons, including heating and marine fuels) are at their lowest level since 2008.

    Another collapse of the Russian economy. I am sure that in Russia they clap and thank you.

  10. Bandera's grandchild

    September 4, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    Dont worry folks, that is just a temp effect of russian ruble and oil. Did you know that they sell gas to chine and india for the price which is 3 times cheaper than market price? If you want to know the reality you gotta know the language of the enemy and watch they national TV. It is worse than Nazi Germany in 1933.
    It does not matter what weapons russian fascists are you because they kill Ukrainian people not just army personnel. This is just a pure and simple form of genocide. And you have to acknowledge that.

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