Russian forces have fired Moscow’s vaunted Khan hypersonic missiles at Ukraine for the first time using Su-34 fighter-bombers, according to Russian state media, in what could mark a tactical change in the way the Kremlin uses its air force in war.
The Kremlin-backed TASS news agency reported on Monday that “the Su-34 aircraft used the Knife hypersonic missile in the airstrike.”
Russia’s Kinzhal, also known as the “Dagger” or “Dagger” hypersonic missile, quickly became a routine part of Russia’s missile strikes against Ukraine shortly after the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
According to Russian state media, the missile was first put into combat in mid-March 2022. The Ukrainian Air Force has repeatedly said that Moscow has launched a “dagger” attack on Ukrainian territory, although such missiles have been less reported than other Russian missile types.
Air-launched missiles are typically launched from Russia’s Soviet-era MiG-31K, not the twin-engine supersonic fighter-bomber Su-34. Russian state media has reported that Moscow’s Tu-22M3 strategic bombers, as well as Su-34 fighter-bombers, may be modified to carry the Knives, but this is the first indication that a new group of aircraft has successfully launched the Knives.
Siddhas Kaushal, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London, said giving the Su-34 the “dagger” capability was a “logical step” for the Russian military.
He told us it would also free up many Russian MiG-31 aircraft to serve as front-line interceptors Weekly newspaper. In this role, “their long-range radar and R-37 interceptors have proven useful to Russia as a tool to keep Ukrainian aircraft out,” he added. He said the MiG-31’s radar system could theoretically identify cruise missiles and act as an anti-cruise missile asset.
“So if using the Su-34 as a missile launcher liberates the MiG-31, we might see more of the latter in defense against aircraft and cruise missiles, especially if Ukrainian missiles are a threat to Russian forces in Crimea More serious words. “More serious,” Kaushal argued.
Moscow has hailed the Knife as one of its “unstoppable” new generation weapons capable of flying at ten times the speed of sound. However, Western experts believe that Moscow’s labeling of the Knife as a hypersonic missile is misleading, and that the Knife may not be as invulnerable as Russia claims.
Military expert David Hamblin previously stated that “all indications are that the ‘Dagger’ is just an air-launched ballistic missile” with limited course correction capabilities, rather than a true hypersonic weapon. Weekly newspaper.
Weekly newspaper The Ukrainian military and the Russian Defense Ministry have been contacted by email for comment.
According to the Ukrainian military, Kiev has successfully shot down a number of Kiev missiles in recent months.
Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshuk said that Ukraine had successfully “shot down an ‘incomparable’ dagger launched by a MiG-31K” in early May 2023. The Pentagon later confirmed that a Ukrainian-operated Patriot system had intercepted a Russian aircraft with a Khan missile, which a “senior Russian Ministry of Defense source” in Russian state media dismissed as “wishful thinking.”
As of mid-June, Kiev said it had shot down two dozen Kiev missiles in recent months. The British Ministry of Defense posted on social media in mid-May that the “obvious vulnerability” of the “dagger” “could surprise and embarrass Russia”.