Russia likely deploying Kinzhal missiles in Belarus for first time, UK intel says
Move aims ‘to send propaganda message’ and implicate Belarus further in Russia’s war (Photo:Hajun_BY via Telegram)
Russia has likely deployed its new Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles at Machulishchi military airfield in Belarus, UK Defence Intelligence said in its update on Ukraine on Nov. 1.
The report says this type of jet is adapted to carry the Kh-47M Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic aero-ballistic air-to-surface missile (they are named AS-24 Killjoy in the summary, according to NATO classification).
Russia has been using these missiles since 2018, but had not previously launched them from Belarus, the UK Ministry of Defense said. The Russian Federation occasionally used Kinzhals for strikes on Ukraine, but not often, as their stocks are “likely very limited.”
“With a range of over 2000 kilometers, basing Killjoy in Belarus gives Russia little added advantage in terms of striking additional targets within Ukraine”, the UK intel notes. However, they believe that the main reason for the deployment of the Kinzhals in Belarus is rather to carry a propaganda message to the West and to portray Belarus as “increasingly complicit in the war.”
Vadym Skybytsky, Major General of the GUR (Main Directorate of Intelligence) of the Defense Ministry of Ukraine, reported at the end of August that, according to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia has only 30-40 Kinzhal missiles left.
These missiles are among the most problematic for the air defense forces of Ukraine, as they fly at an extremely high speed, making it almost impossible to shoot them down, Yuriy Ignat, the spokesman of the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, explained earlier.
“This is the newest type of missile adopted by Russia in 2018,” Ukraine’s Air Force Command said in earlier comments.
“In total, several dozen of them have been launched. The weight of the Kh-47M warhead is 500 kg, and the speed of the missile is more than 12,000 km/h. After launching from the plane, the missile rises to a high altitude in the upper layers of the atmosphere, and reaches maximum speed when approaching the target on a ballistic trajectory.
“The tactical and technical characteristics of this missile prevent the existing means of air defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from effectively detecting and destroying it.”
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