Russia Deploys Hypersonic Missile To Baltic Near NATO Capitals
MOSCOW - A new video in Russian that was posted on Telegram show what looks to be a Russian MiG-31K Foxhound (MiG-31I) carrying what appears to be a Kinzhal hypersonic missile to the Chkalovsk air base near Kaliningrad, which is a Russian territory that closely borders both Poland and Lithuania, both which are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The video taken of the aircraft landing is reported by Forbes to be geolocated to the Kaliningrad Chkalovsk naval airbase in Russia. Unconfirmed reports also stated later that there were four or five other MiG-31s that landed at the airstrip armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.
The Kinzhal, also named Kh-47M2, 9-A-76609 (recent name) or "Dagger" missile is a Russian nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) that has a reported range of around 2,00km, or about 1,200 miles which would easily put the NATO member states within range.
The Kh-47M2 missile can be equipped with either a 1,100LB fragmentation warhead or a warhead with a 500-kiloton nuclear payload 33 times more powerful than the Fat Man nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
The Kinzhal missile can travel up to Mach 10 speed, which is about 6,672 miles per hour (over 2 miles per second) or roughly ten times the speed of sound. In comparison, the fastest bullets travel at about 2,600 feet per second, or about 1,800 miles per hour. This means that a Mach 10 missile flies over 3 times faster than the fastest bullet can fly.
Hypersonic missiles do not give air defenses much time to react due to how fast they travel and how maneuverable they tend to be. They are nearly impossible to shoot down once they are launched, as missile defense systems are not yet equipped to handle or track targets moving so quickly.
Raytheon Missile & Defense are currently working on high power microwave systems to damage the electronic components of incoming missiles or drones that would be cheap to fire (only requiring the power to fire it rather than ammunition) and capable of knocking out a 'whole swarm of electronic threats in a single shot' according to Colin Whelan, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
Paul Head, who leads high-power microwave programs at Raytheon Missiles & Defense stated "We crank up the power to create enough energy to electronically disrupt a target. It causes the drone to fall out of the sky".
"When it comes to defeating a threat that pushes the limits of a physical object’s speed, you naturally look to a defense that moves at the speed of light. It doesn’t matter how maneuverable an adversary is. They are going down if you have speed-of-light defenses". Whelan stated.
Unfortunately, hypersonic missiles are so maneuverable that they can avoid detection altogether, even doing loops around missile defense systems. It doesn't matter if a country possess the technology to shoot a hypersonic missile down if they do not have the technology to detect the missiles in the first place.
The fact that Russia's Kaliningrad base does not currently house MiG-31K aircraft, Russia's deployment of these MiG-31Ks carrying hypersonic weapons are likely intended to deliberately display a 'show of force' to NATO or a threat in case NATO decides to intervene against a possible Russian invasion on Ukraine.
Military analyst Rob Lee stated that a Kinzhal that is launched from Kaliningrad can reach most West European capitals and Ankara. Iskander missiles on the other hand, such as those that are currently being hosted at the Kaliningrad air base can only reach the very northern part of Berlin.
While Iskander missiles can travel up to Mach 6 or 7, Kinzhal missiles have the capability of hitting targets in Berlin within seven to 10 minutes after being shot, which gives very little, if not no warning before the missiles hit their targets.
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