Russia's 'Dagger' on Ukraine: Kinzhal hypersonic missiles can degrade high value targets

Updated: Jan 29, 2022, 03:50 PM(IST)

Russia's Kinzhal hypersonic missile system has a payload of 480 kgs. It has reportedly been deployed on a squadron of MiG-31Ks.

Nuclear-capable Kinzhal missiles

Last week Russia had tested the Kinzhal missiles in the Arctic region amid tensions with Ukraine at the border.

According to reports, Russia is preparing a Kinzhal hypersonic complex at military airfields. 

The Kinzhal missile system is nuclear-capable and was unveiled by President Putin during a speech in March 2018 as one of the  “next generation” weapons.

Russia has already deployed the air-launched ballistic missiles on MiG-31K carriers.

According to a report, Russia’s 2020 Arctic strategy states that the increased conflict potential of the Arctic requires the Russian armed forces to constantly increase their combat potential in the region.

(Photo Courtesy: Sputnik)


'Dagger': Destroy high-value targets

According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS), Kinzhal has been deployed on a squadron of MiG-31Ks in the southern military district and the western military district is set to receive the hypersonic weapon in the near future.

The missile known as the "Dagger” is an Air-launched Ballistic Missile (ALBM) with a payload of 480 kgs. It has a range of 1,500-2,000 km and was reportedly put in service in 2017.

The Kinzhal is typically described as a weapon intended to destroy high-value ground targets, such as missile defence sites, CSIS said in its study.

(Photo courtesy: Russian Aerospace Forces)


Kinzhal's land attack role in northern Europe

The missile system primarily targets aircraft carriers, Aegis cruisers and destroyers. "The Kinzhal may also have an important land-attack role in northern Europe considering that an Iskander brigade was recently deployed near the Norwegian border," CSIS said in its report.

Russia has already announced it will hold huge naval drills in the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific and Mediterranean this month and February at a time of heightened tensions with Western nations.

The wargames will involve more than 140 warships and support vessels, more than 60 aircraft, 1,000 pieces of military equipment, and about 10,000 servicemen.

(Photo Courtesy: Russian ministry of defence)


Kinzhal missile with Mach 4 speed, can reach Mach 10

Reports claim Russia has developed the Kinzhal missile system to likely target European infrastructure and to counter US's THAAD missile threat.

The Kinzhal can reportedly fly at Mach 4 speed (4,900 km/h) and can reach speeds of up to Mach 10 (12,350 km/hr). It is a missile which would be almost impossible to detect by European radars.

The missile had undergone trial in southern Russia in December 2017 as the country's defence ministry said "the hypersonic missile hit the preset target on the test site.”


Russia's strategic bombers over Arctic Ocean

Russia had flown two nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers over the Arctic a few day ago, the Russian Ministry of Defence had informed.

The flight was conducted over the neutral waters of the Arctic Ocean, the Barents Sea, and the White Sea

Russia carries out similar training flights over the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans, as well as over the Black and Baltic Seas on a regular basis, a policy some NATO members regard as unhelpful saber-rattling.

The two Tupolev T-160 aircraft, which can carry up to 12 short-range nuclear missiles, were in the air for 13 hours.


Zircon, Russia's hypersonic missile

Russia meanwhile recently launched a hypersonic missile, called Zircon, from a submarine and deployed a hypersonic, nuclear-capable ballistic system in 2019, called Avangard.

Moscow has in recent years touted the development of weapons that it hopes will give it the edge in any arms race with the United States at a time of growing tensions with the West.

Hypersonics can travel more than five times the speed of sound and manoeuvre in mid-flight, making them much harder to track and intercept than traditional projectiles.

In November, the Russian military had said that it had fired the Zircon missile from the Admiral Gorshkov warship and hit a test target in Russia's Arctic waters.

The Zircon had already undergone several tests in recent years, including another launch from the Admiral Gorshkov and from a submerged submarine.


'Quite a Sputnik moment'

Putin had used his state of the nation address in 2018 to reveal new hypersonic weapons, including the Zircon, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land with a range of 1,000 kilometre.

The Zircon looks set to join Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles that were put into service in 2019 and the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles in Russia's arsenal. Russia is generally seen as the world leader in hypersonic technology.

In fact, after the surprise launch of the hypersonic missile by China, Pentagon's top general Mark Milley had said it was "quite a Sputnik moment".

The general was referring to Soviet Union's stunning launch of the world's first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, which sparked the superpowers' space race.

China denied the report, saying it was a routine test of a reusable space vehicle.


Orion combat drone

As tensions mounted along the border in Ukraine last year, Russia launched the Orion combat drone. The attack drone fired an air-to-air munition at an unmanned vehicle during testing.

According to the Russian defence ministry the drone also fired at ground targets during the exercise at the Crimean training ground.

Reports said Russia has also reportedly developed a new aircraft-launched laser-guided missile. The Orion drone can take on other drones during combat.


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