Russia’s Hypersonic Weapons: More Hype From Moscow Not Backed Up By Performance – Russia announced this week that it is developing another hypersonic missile in addition to the three that they are already fielding. Last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told the Russian news agency Interfax that the Russian military has tested the next-generation missiles from Tupolev Tu-22 supersonic bomber.
“Work is underway to create a new generation of hypersonic missiles for land, air, and sea platforms. In terms of their characteristics, they will surpass the existing and future developments of the leading states,” he said.
“There is nothing like Kinzhal in any state of the world,” Borisov said, adding, “A missile flying at a speed exceeding the speed of sound by more than 10 times, and at the same time maneuvering along the entire trajectory of its flight is really impossible to be intercepted by air defense systems.”
But rather than fill the West with fear, it should be pointed out Russia’s hypersonic missiles are long on hype and short on accuracy.
On Wednesday, U.S. Northern Command chief Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck testified to the strategic forces subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia has “had challenges with some of their hypersonic missiles as far as accuracy,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told the press that most of the missiles fired on Ukraine had targeted civilian buildings. “We have seen the Russians use hypersonic missiles in the past over the last 75-plus days, largely to hit buildings. They have not fired, from our assessment, a whole lot of hypersonic missiles. And it’s a bit of a head-scratcher why you would use a hypersonic against a building,” he said.
Back in March, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced the first operational use of the nation’s new Kh-47M2 “Kinzha”l hypersonic missile in a strike against Ukraine. Alex Hollings wrote in Sandboxx that it wasn’t “exactly the historic occasion” that the Russians were proclaiming, adding that “it’s certainly nothing new.”
“In fact, practically every ballistic missile and spacecraft mankind has ever launched had been and still is hypersonic in nature,” Hollings wrote.
Last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army General Mark Milley, while testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, said that Russia’s much-hyped hypersonic missiles haven’t been a game-changer or had “a significant impact” on the war.
“The Russians have used several hypersonic missiles,” Milley said.
“Obviously, the distinguishing factor of a hypersonic missile is the speed at which it travels … but other than the speed of the weapon — in terms of its effect on a given target — we are not seeing really significant or game-changing effects to date with the delivery of the small number of hypersonics that the Russians have used,” he added.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also testified to the House committee and reiterated Milley’s statement that Russia’s hypersonic missiles haven’t been a significant factor.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO, and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and another military news organization, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 10 years. His work was also regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.