Russia’s Special Hypersonic Missile Risk

( – Multiple news outlets are reporting that Russia’s much ballyhooed hypersonic missiles may not live up to their billing. One missile is called the Kinzhal and they’ve been using it in their ongoing war with Ukraine. Officials within intelligence organizations say they’ve recovered fragments of the missiles on Ukrainian land after they were shot down before reaching a target.

The Ukrainians say their missile defense systems are handling the Kinzhals with a high degree of accuracy. This news, if true, would be bad for the Russians because they had billed the Kinzhal as an invincible weapon. The Russians have also promoted a missile called the Zircon as a “super weapon” similar to the Kinzhal. Ukrainian officials say they have likewise seen and successfully defended the country against the Zircon.

The Russians deploying these weapons opens them up to study by adversaries like NATO, which will assess the nation’s capabilities and war-fighting tactics. A former NATO official who is now the director of strategy, technology, and arms control at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), William Alberque, called the use of these missiles “astonishing.” He believes that the Russian military has exposed their once-feared weapons as non-successful. Alberque says NATO is learning much about Russian war fighting capabilities and limitations.

The Ukrainians say they’ve been defeating the missiles primarily with the use of American Patriot missile defense systems. They say when traveling at low altitudes the Russian missiles lack maneuverability and are relatively easily downed. These intelligence reports seem to indicate the Russians oversold the missile’s hypersonic capabilities. Experts say if they were truly hypersonic they’d be very maneuverable at high speeds and not easily taken down by Patriot defense systems. Hypersonic missiles differ from the more common ballistic missiles in their ability to fly in unpredictable patterns with great speed. If these reports prove to be accurate then the Russian military may have shown they do not have hypersonic missiles at their disposal.

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