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Russia Deploys Kh-47 Kinzhal AS-24 Killjoy Hypersonic Missile in Ukraine First Since August 2023

December 20, 2023 - In a significant escalation of military tactics in Ukraine, the Russian Air Force has reportedly utilized the Kh-47 Kinzhal, known in NATO as the AS-24 Killjoy, marking its first deployment since August 2023. According to the British Ministry of Defense Intelligence, at least one of these hypersonic ballistic missiles was launched into central Ukraine on December 14, 2023, targeting a military airfield.
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The Kh-47 Kinzhal, NATO designation AS-24 Killjoy, is a hypersonic ballistic missile considered as "undefeatable" by modern air defense systems. (Picture source Russian MoD)

The Kh-47 Kinzhal, one of the six "Super Weapons" unveiled by Russian President Putin in 2018, has been highlighted as a key component in Russia's evolving military doctrine. This missile system, reserved by Russia for high-value and well-defended targets, signifies a strategic shift in the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

However, the operational performance of the AS-24 Killjoy (Kh-47 Kinzhal) has been met with skepticism. Reports suggest that many of its launches have not hit their intended targets, and Ukraine has reportedly intercepted attacks by this missile, which was once touted as "undefeatable." This mixed combat performance raises questions about the effectiveness of the Kinzhal in actual warfare scenarios and its impact on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The use of such advanced weaponry underscores the intensifying nature of the conflict and the continuous evolution of military strategies employed by both Russia and Ukraine. The international community is closely monitoring these developments, particularly concerning the potential implications for global security and warfare technology.

The Kh-47 Kinzhal stands out for its remarkable hypersonic speed, capable of exceeding Mach 5. This incredible velocity is complemented by its high maneuverability, enabling the missile to perform complex evasive actions that make interception a challenging task. In addition to its speed and agility, the Kinzhal has an impressive range of about 2,000 kilometers, allowing for long-distance strikes. It's also notable for its versatility in payload options, being able to carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, thus providing a range of strategic options for military use.

A key aspect of the Kinzhal's operational capability is its compatibility with specific aircraft. It is primarily launched from the high-altitude, supersonic MiG-31K interceptor aircraft. This combination of the Kinzhal missile and the MiG-31K allows for a rapid, long-range strike capability, enhancing the strategic reach of the Russian Air Force. The recent use of this advanced missile system in the Ukraine conflict is a clear indicator of the evolving nature of military engagements in the region and has significant implications for global security and military technology.

The Kh-47 Kinzhal missile, renowned for its hypersonic speed and advanced targeting capabilities, also boasts significant destructive power, primarily attributed to its warhead capabilities and the high-velocity impact.

Equipped with a range of warhead options, the Kinzhal can carry both conventional and nuclear payloads. This versatility allows it to be deployed for a wide array of strategic purposes, ranging from precision strikes against specific military targets to potentially larger-scale destructive missions. The conventional warheads are capable of causing substantial damage to fortified structures and critical infrastructure, while the option of a nuclear warhead, though more controversial and with far-reaching geopolitical implications, adds a significant strategic deterrent capability to the missile.

The destructive power of the Kinzhal is further enhanced by its sheer speed. Traveling at hypersonic speeds, the missile's kinetic energy upon impact is immense, enabling it to penetrate deeply fortified bunkers and withstand various missile defense systems. This combination of speed, payload flexibility, and range makes the Kh-47 Kinzhal a formidable weapon in modern warfare, capable of delivering devastating blows to targets with precision and speed.

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