Ukraine’s MoD has confirmed shooting down Russia’s Kinzhal (Kh-47) hypersonic missile over Kyiv in the early morning hours of May 4.
.@KpsZSU confirms that Ukraine's air defenders shot down Kinzhal, a hypersonic aeroballistic russian missile, for the first time since the attacks began. This was done by operators of Patriot air defense system.
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) May 6, 2023
In a tweet, the MoD said – @KpsZSU confirms that Ukraine’s air defenders shot down Kinzhal, a hypersonic aeroballistic russian missile, for the first time since the attacks began. This was done by operators of Patriot air defense system
Earlier, a news portal, Defense Express, claimed to have obtained photographic evidence of debris, including a damaged nose fairing, from a Kh-47 Kinzhal missile launched by Russian MiG-31 in an attempted attack on Kyiv.
The Kyiv City Military Administration officially confirmed the attack on Kyiv on May 4, reporting that in addition to Shahed kamikaze drones, missiles were also used in the attack – “probably of a ballistic type,” the report said.
The Administration stated that “all enemy missiles were destroyed” during the attack, according to official reports. However, the report claims to have obtained photos of missile debris from their own sources, which suggest that non-explosive wreckage fell onto a stadium within the city.
One of the images captured following the attack on Kyiv shows missile debris, including the nose fairing, which appears to be consistent with the design of the Kh-47 Kinzhal missile.
The debris matches the unitary warhead assembly used in Kh-47M2 & Iskander-series missiles. pic.twitter.com/RjAcBQYEUN
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 5, 2023
It is possible that the debris could be from other missiles. However, the report added that the X-22 missile, which is a potential alternative, features a nose design with oval transitions, unlike the debris captured in the photos, which has abrupt diameter transition.
In addition, the downed missile does not match the thicker build of the Iskander ballistic missile. Furthermore, it is also reported that the Patriot defense system was likely responsible for intercepting the hypersonic missile.
In April, Ukraine received the American-made Patriot missiles, which provided the country with a much-needed defense against Russian airstrikes that have caused significant damage to civilian infrastructure and cities.
This delivery marked a significant step in Ukraine’s efforts to bolster its military capabilities against the ongoing conflict with Russia.
Kyiv Post journalist Jason Jay Smart shared a video allegedly showing one of these missiles being destroyed on Twitter.
He tweeted: When you hear that aid for Ukraine is not worth your tax dollars: This Western air defense just saved the lives of (Ukrainian) civilians. This air defense is in Kyiv, thanks to your tax dollars. Listen to the cheers of the ?? witnesses of this: They appreciate your support for a free.
When you hear that aid for ?? is not worth your tax dollars: This Western air defense just saved the lives of ??civilians.
This air defense is in Kyiv thanks to your tax dollars.
Listen to the cheers of the ?? witnesses of this: They appreciate your support for a free ??. pic.twitter.com/I8KC8uoM6f
— Jason Jay Smart (@officejjsmart) May 4, 2023
If the reports of the interception of the Kinzhal missile are accurate, this would be a significant achievement, as the Kh-47 Kinzhal missile is known for its high-speed maneuverability and can pose a significant challenge to traditional missile defense systems.
Earlier, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat had said in a statement: “I have already refuted a thousand times, you should have seen it yesterday. There was a possibility of using ballistic missiles, but no ballistic missiles were recorded.”
A Ukrainian Telegram channel reporting on Ignat’s statement clarified that the “air command does not confirm the media reports about the downing of the Kinzhal missile over Kyiv.”
However, the confirmation by the MoD has confirmed the interception of hypersonic missile.
Kinzhal Hypersonic System
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile is an air-launched ballistic missile developed by Russia, believed to be based on the ground-launched 9K720 Iskander-M system.
The Kinzhal missile was one of six “next generation” weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018. The missile is carried by Russian MiG-31K fighter interceptors, known for their exceptional capabilities to engage ground and naval targets.
The Kinzhal missile boasts advanced features such as radar stealth and high maneuverability, making it a formidable weapon and a significant advancement in Russia’s military capabilities.
According to the TASS, the missile is capable of reaching speeds up to ten times the speed of sound and can target locations over 2,000 kilometers away.
In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced via a video address on the Kremlin website that Russia would continue mass production of the Kinzhal air-based hypersonic missile.
With advanced maneuvering capabilities, the missile can navigate through any air or anti-ballistic missile defenses that may be in place. Additionally, it can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, weighing up to 500 kg.
Since December 2017, the Kinzhal has been in combat readiness in the Russian Armed Forces.
The Russian defense ministry boasted of launching a Kinzhal missile strike on a munitions depot in southwest Ukraine on March 19, 2022. That marked the very first deployment of the weapon in live combat.
Despite Moscow’s claims of the superior capabilities of the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, many experts have expressed doubts about its effectiveness.
In 2021, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) suggested that while Russian hypersonic capabilities were certainly potent, they may be more useful as a psychological tool than a military asset.