The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal is a Russian hypersonic aero-ballistic air-to-surface missile with nuclear capability. It has a range of more than 2,000 kilometres, a top speed of Mach 10, and the ability to undertake evasive manoeuvres at all stages of flight.
- It can be launched from Tu-22M3 bombers or MiG-31K interceptors and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.
- It has been deployed in Russian airbases in the Southern and Western Military Districts.
- The Kinzhal was first deployed in December 2017 and is one of six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled in 2018 by President Vladimir Putin.
- In 2016, during Russia’s military campaign in Syria the missile was first fired.
Design of the missile
- The missile is designed to hit NATO warships, posing a threat to Russia’s strategic missile systems, as well as destroy NATO missile defence systems, ballistic missile defence ships, and land targets near the Russian borders.
- Its design has been made to destroy and overcome any existing or planned US air and missile defence systems, such as the MIM-104 Patriot, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and Aegis Combat System.
- The missile’s first stage is most likely shared with the 9K720 Iskander, but the guidance component is unique to this missile. It has the ability to strike both stationary and mobile targets, such as aircraft carriers.
- The missile accelerates to hypersonic speed within seconds of launch and performs movements during the flight to avoid enemy missile defences.
- The Kinzhal’s high speed makes it significantly more effective at penetrating targets than lighter subsonic cruise missiles like the Tomahawk.
- The Kinzhal has more than 432 times the on-cruise kinetic energy of a Tomahawk missile, while being three times as heavy and almost twelve times as fast.
The operational history of the missile
Ten MiG-31Ks capable of firing Kinzhal missiles were on experimental combat duty in May 2018 and were ready to deploy. By the end of December 2018, aircraft armed with Kinzhal missiles had conducted 89 sorties over the Caspian and Black Seas. Crews of MiG-31K Kinzhal missile carriers had performed more than 380 training sorties with the missile by February 2019. The weapon had its debut public appearance in August 2019 during the Aviadarts international contest. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Russian military said to have used Kinzhal missiles to destroy a Ukrainian armed forces underground weapons facility in Deliatyn.