In the first ever use of a hypersonic weapon in battle, Russian forces destroyed a large underground weapons depot in Ukraine by firing a Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic aero-ballistic air-to-ground missile at it.
Russian defense ministry said today that on March 18, its Armed Forces using a ‘Kinzhal’ hypersonic missile, destroyed the warehouse in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast’s Delyatyn village, some 470km West-Southwest from Kyiv. The region of Ivano-Frankivsk shares a 50km-long border with NATO member Romania.
Moscow has never before admitted using the high-precision weapon in combat.
The use of Russia’s most potent conventional weapon, could be linked to the interception of Russia’s long range cruise missiles over Ukraine during the last few days. Ukraine’s recently acquired cruise missile interception capability could have worried the Kremlin.
The Kinzhal has a claimed range of more than 2,000 km, Mach 10 speed, and an ability to perform evasive manoeuvres at every stage of its flight. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and can be launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31K interceptors. As per reports, Kinzhal can carry nuclear payload of 480 kg. This is 33 times the yield of the Fat Man bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Russia has stolen a march over America and Europe in the development of hypersonic weapons. U.S. hypersonic technology is still in the test phase with a number of launch failures to speak of.
In June 2021, a Russian MiG-31K is reported to have fired the Kinzhal on a ground target in Syria. But the report has not been confirmed by Moscow.