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Ukraine downs Russian hypersonic missile with US Patriot system

Ukraine says it downed a Russian hypersonic missile over the capital Kyiv using a newly acquired US Patriot defence system in what would be a first in its ability to intercept one of Moscow’s most modern weapons.

The Kinzhal missile is one of the latest and most advanced Russian weapons. Its military says the air-launched ballistic missile has a range of up to 2,000km (1,250 miles) and flies at 10 times the speed of sound, making it hard to intercept.

A combination of hypersonic speed and a heavy warhead allows the Kinzhal to destroy heavily fortified targets, such as underground bunkers or mountain tunnels.

“I congratulate the Ukrainian people on the historic event. Yes, we shot down the ‘unique’ Kinzhal,” Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said in a Telegram post on Saturday. “It happened during the nighttime attack on May 4 in the skies of the Kyiv region.”

It was the first time Ukraine is known to have used the Patriot missile defence system.

Oleshchuk said the Kh-47 was launched by a MiG-31K aircraft from Russian territory and was shot down with a single Patriot missile. The Ukrainian military has previously admitted lacking assets to intercept the supersonic weapon.

The Kinzhal, which means “dagger” in Russian, is one of six “next generation” weapons unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in 2018 when the Russian leader boasted it cannot be shot down by any of the world’s air defence systems.

The air-launched ballistic missile can reach speeds of up to Mach 10 (12,350 kilometres per hour) and is capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads.

source: aljazeera