Kim Jong-un ‘Checks Out’ MiG-31, Kinzhal Hypersonic Missile As Moscow, Pyongyang Cement Ties

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, currently visiting Russia, inspected several state-of-the-art systems deployed in the ongoing Ukraine war, including the Kinzhal hypersonic missile, supersonic bombers, and the latest weapons mounted on the MiG-31 missile carrier.

This information was published by the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) on its official Telegram channel. The inspection of the next-generation missile system was also accompanied by a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Knevichi airfield near Vladivostok in the Far East of Russia.

“At the Knevichi airfield, Russian Minister of Defense General of the Army Sergei Shoigu presented the Russian MiG-31I missile carrier with the latest weaponry – the Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missile – to the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un,” the RuMoD said in a statement on Telegram.

Briefing the North Korean leader, Commander of the Long-Range Aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash reported on the flight and technical characteristics of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system. On top of that, he noted that the system includes a Mig-31I missile carrier equipped with the Kinzhal hypersonic aero-ballistic missile and a missile control system.

“This Russian aircraft system has no equivalent anywhere in the world and has shown to be very combat-effective,” the Russian MoD said in a statement emphasizing the deadly combination of MiG-31 and the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. Russia has fired these missiles, touted as invincible by Russia, on Ukrainian targets several times during this bloody conflict.

As he spoke with Shoigu and other military officials through interpreters about technical specifics, Kim looked at the Kinzhal missile, gestured, and asked questions about the jets’ capabilities.

The inspection is significant as it comes amid heightened concerns in the West about a potential arms agreement that will be signed between the two of its adversaries, which have been inching closer to each other since the Russian invasion led to Moscow’s isolation.

Western commentators believe Kim’s visit to Russia’s military and technical installations may have hinted at what he wants from Russia in return for giving ammunition to top off Putin’s depleting supplies. However, there is no information as to what systems the North Korean President would be interested in if an arms agreement is indeed in the works.

According to experts, prospective military cooperation between the two nations may entail initiatives to update North Korea’s obsolete air force, which was still dependent on jets from the Soviet Union in the 1980s. However, experts also believe that the Kinzhal and the MiG-31 inspection do not automatically translate into a deal.

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal - Wikipedia
Kh-47M2 Kinzhal carried by a MiG-31 – Wikipedia

Indian Air Force veteran and military expert who keenly watches the Russian military, Squadron Leader Vijainder K. Thakur (retd.), explained to EurAsian Times, “Kinzhal is not just a missile that you can shoot at the adversary. It needs a launch platform that is expensive and difficult to operate. It needs intelligence for targeting. North Korea does not have MiG-31D. Since the heavy fighter is not in production, it is very doubtful that Russia can transfer it to North Korea.”

When it was pointed out that Russia is reportedly firing the Kinzhal from its Su-34 Fullback fighter bomber, Thakur retorted, “North Korea does not have Su 34. Russia has as yet not met its demand for its Su-34 frontline bomber. So, it is improbable.”

The US has accused Kim of supplying weapons and ammunition, including shells and rockets, to support Putin’s conflict for months. Although the US claims that the guns won’t dramatically change the battlefield, they can still be used to shell Ukraine. More importantly, these sales could give North Korea a new source of income for a country whose economy is mainly cut off from international trade.

Some officials in the US as well as South Korea have warned that any such deal would be in contravention of the UN sanctions and would come at a heavy price.

Cutting-Edge Systems Shown To North Korean Leader

The North Korean leader was also shown an array of cutting-edge warplanes, out of which its strategic supersonic bombers particularly stood out. Bombers like Tu-160, Tu-95, and Tu-22 bombers that have been extensively deployed to launch cruise missiles were presented to Kim Jong Un.

In addition, Kim was informed by Shoigu and Lt. Gen. Sergei Kobylash that the Tu-160 had just acquired brand-new cruise missiles with a 4,040-mile range. Shoigu pointed to the weapons bay and stated that each bomber had 12 missiles.

Besides the bombers, Kim also had the chance to see Russia’s fifth-generation stealth jet. The RuMoD noted that Kim also visited the Russian Marshal Shaposhnikov frigate to inspect the Su-35 and the Su-57 stealth combat fighter during a tour of a factory producing fighter jets and other aircraft types.

Kim was also seen talking to Shoigu and Yevmenov about a purported nuclear attack submarine the North unveiled last week as they stepped out of the Shaposhnikov frigate. This is significant given that North Korea is looking to bolster its fleet to compete with the high-tech US naval forces, extending its joint military exercises with South Korea.

According to analysts, Kim’s emphasis on naval power may be motivated by goals to acquire sophisticated technologies for nuclear- and ballistic-missile submarines and to start bilateral naval exercises between North Korea and Russia.

He also held lengthy conversations while touring the Vostochny Cosmodrome space facility in the Amur area. The trip to the space center brought to light a few things Kim would want in return for supplying Russia with weapons, noted experts. They observed that Pyongyang may be looking to Moscow for help due to its repeated failures to launch spy satellites this year.

They noted that Kim might be looking for technology that would make it easier for his government’s nuclear weapons to withstand the heat of atmospheric reentry.