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Russia Deploys Hypersonic Missile in Recent Move, UK MoD Reveals

The British Ministry of Defence has disclosed that Russia recently fired a hypersonic missile, marking its first use of such a weapon since August.

Missiles Targeted Ukrainian Air Base

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The missile launch targeted a Ukrainian air base near Kyiv, with the Ukrainian air force reportedly downing one missile while failing to intercept the remaining two. The incident raises concerns about escalating tensions in the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

Russia’s Recent Hypersonic Missile Launch

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reported that Russia launched a hypersonic missile, known as the AS-24 Killjoy by NATO, at a Ukrainian air base near Kyiv. The missile strike occurred last Thursday, with the Ukrainian air force managing to intercept one missile but missing the other two. The extent of damage caused by the unintercepted missiles remains undisclosed.

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Hypersonic Missiles: An Overview

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Hypersonic missiles are considered the next generation of weaponry. Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonics, classified as AS-24 Killjoys, are at the forefront of the Kremlin’s arsenal. 

Remarkable Speeds

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These missiles boast remarkable speeds, traveling at up to ten times the speed of sound (approximately 8,000mph). In comparison, subsonic cruise missiles like the US Air Force’s Tomahawk move at a significantly slower 550mph.

Kinzhal Missile Capabilities

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Kinzhal missiles are typically carried by MiG-31K fighter jets and can strike targets up to 1,250 miles away. Their exceptional speed, mid-flight maneuverability, and ability to fly at low altitudes make them challenging to detect via ground radar systems, rendering them nearly impossible to intercept.

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Dual Payload Potential

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Of particular concern is the Kinzhal’s capacity to carry both nuclear and conventional warheads. There have been apprehensions that Russia might resort to deploying nuclear payloads, particularly as the conflict in Ukraine extends and becomes more protracted than anticipated due to determined local resistance backed by international support.

International Interest in Hypersonic Missiles

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The Aukus nations, including Australia, the UK, and the US, have expressed interest in developing hypersonic missiles and counter-hypersonic technologies. The collaboration initially focused on nuclear submarine development but has since shifted towards addressing the threat posed by Russia.

Effectiveness and Psychological Impact

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Some military analysts argue that hypersonic missiles may have a limited impact on the battlefield but serve primarily to create a psychological and propaganda effect, inspiring fear and uncertainty.

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US Developments

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In the United States, issues arose during the testing phase of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). As a result, the US Air Force decided not to proceed with purchasing the hypersonic weapon, opting instead to complete the ARRW program’s last two test flights to gather data for future hypersonic projects.

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