Warning NATO: Russia Uses New Hypersonic ‘Dagger’ Ballistic Missile to Destroy Arms Depot By Polish Border

On March 18 Russia employed the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ‘Dagger’ hypersonic ballistic missile in combat for the first time to engage targets in Western Ukraine, neutralising a  large underground warehouse according to a Defence Ministry statement. 

The target was located in the village of Delyatyn in Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk region near the country’s border with Poland over which it has a been receiving the bulk of military supplies, and reportedly destroyed considerable quantities of munitions. Although this is the only known use of the Kinzhal, Russia has used a wide range of other assets to neutralise targets up to Ukraine’s western border including Kalibr cruise missiles and Iskander ballistic missiles.

 The latter is closely related to the Kinzhal but has a fraction of the range, is launched from the ground rather than the air, and is fielded much more widely. The strike was likely intended largely for combat testing purposes, with the Kinzhal being one of Russia’s only land attack tactical missiles not to have previously seen combat.

The Kinzhal first entered service in late 2017, and is deployed by Russian Air Force MiG-31K Foxhound strike fighters and Tu-22M bombers. Derivatives of the missile are under development for the lighter Su-57 next generation fighter and for the heavier Tu-160 intercontinental range bomber. The Kinzhal is prized for its very high Mach 10 speed and high degree of manoeuvrability, which make it near impossible to intercept for any known air defence system. 

Able to engage targets across Europe without its launching aircraft needing to leave Russian airspace, the Kinzhal provides an asymmetric means of tackling NATO forces and neutralising priority targets such as airfields and command centres in a war’s opening stages. With Ukraine being far closer to Russia and well within range of the Iskander, there was arguably little military need to use the Kinzhal other than to demonstrate its capabilities. 

The missiles, carried by MiG-31K fighters, were notably deployed to Russia’s westernmost military facilities in the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and in Syria at Khmeimim Airbase. The missiles can deploy both nuclear and conventional warheads, and can be used to engage warships as well as ground targets. 

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