Ukraine Claims Russian Hypersonic Missile Shot Down Using US Patriot System
In an alleged first which is no doubt making US Congressional hawks very proud, Ukraine says it has intercepted a Russian ballistic missile for the first time using a US-made anti-air defense system. What's more, and perhaps the more dubious aspect, is that it was a hypersonic missile shot down over Kiev, according to top Ukrainian officials.
Commander of Ukraine's air force, Mykola Oleshchuk, announced in a Saturday Telegram post that a Russian Kinzhal, or Kh-47, was inbound until being successfully intercepted using American Patriot missiles. The intercept occurred Thursday night in what's the first time known time Patriot defenses were put into successful use by Ukraine.
Moscow has long touted its hypersonic ballistic missiles as essentially "impossible to intercept" given the projectile can travel at 10 times the speed of sound with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (or about 1,250 miles).
According to the top Ukrainian commander's words:
"Yes, we shot down the ‘unique’ Kinzhal," Oleshchuk stated. "It happened during the night time attack on May 4 in the skies of the Kyiv region."
Oleshchuk said the Kh-47 missile was launched by a MiG-31K aircraft from the Russian territory and was shot down with a Patriot missile.
And a separate statement from Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat taunted the Russians while boasting of the US Patriot's proven capabilities:
"They were saying that the Patriot is an outdated American weapon, and Russian weapons are the best in the world," Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said on Ukraine’s Channel 24 television. "Well, there is confirmation that it effectively works against even a super hypersonic missile." Ihnat said.
He said successfully intercepting the Kinzhal is "a slap in the face for Russia."
It was only late last month that Ukraine confirmed delivery of the first Patriot batteries from the United States, though an unknown quantity, alongside anti-air systems from Germany and the Netherlands.
More self-congratulations from Ukraine's top brass was issued Saturday follows:
"I congratulate the Ukrainian people on a historic event," Lt. Gen. Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of the Ukrainian air force, said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app. "Yes, we have shot down the ‘unparalleled’ ‘Kinzhal.'"
It should be noted that amid the atmosphere of heavy war propaganda and disinformation which is part and parcel of modern conflict, even The New York Times has expressed caution in its headline, "Ukraine Claims It Shot Down Russia’s Most Sophisticated Missile for First Time."
The Times describes, "The U.S. officials said they were relying on information from the Ukrainian military coming through classified channels, but added they had no reason to doubt its authenticity."
"Nevertheless, independent analysts were reluctant to confirm the interception until more information was available about the type of missile Russia fired and whether it was hit by a Patriot," the report notes.
One Moscow-based analyst was quick to dismiss the reports as "fake news"...
Fake News Alert: It’s Extremely Unlikely That Kiev Shot Down A Hypersonic Missile https://t.co/d7LxeyrV0Y— Andrew Korybko (@AKorybko) May 6, 2023
Meanwhile, Russia's air war is likely only to heat up further, given also on Saturday the defense ministry said Ukraine sent two ballistic missiles into Crimea. "A ballistic missile launched by Ukraine's Hrim-2 OTRK was shot down over the Republic of Crimea by the air defense," a top Crimean official announced.
Sputnik further quoted him as follows: "Russia's air defense systems on Saturday shot down two ballistic missiles launched by Ukraine's Grom-2 operational-tactical missile system (OTRK) over Crimea, Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to Head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, said on Saturday."