British Defense Intelligence believes Russia has deployed fighter interceptors capable of carrying Kinzhal (NATO nomenclature KILLJOY) missiles to Belarus to send a message to the West and portray Belarus as increasingly involved in the war, it has stated in its daily review. Ukraine currently lacks capacity to intercept the Kinzhal nuclear-capable hypersonic aero-ballistic air-to-surface missile, and jets that are carriers of this missile regularly take off from Belarus airfields, setting off missile threat alarms all throughout Ukraine.
“Imagery showed two MiG-31K FOXHOUND interceptor jets were almost certainly parked at Belarus’s Machulishchi Airfield on 17 October, with a large canister stored nearby within a protective earth berm.
It is likely that the canister is associated with the AS-24 KILLJOY air-launched ballistic missile, a large munition that the MiG-31K variant is adapted to carry.
Russia has fielded KILLJOY since 2018, but it has not previously been deployed in Belarus. Russia has occasionally launched these weapons during the Ukraine war, but stocks are likely very limited.
It continues to expend its advanced long-range munitions against targets of limited operational importance.
With a range of over 2000km, basing KILLJOY in Belarus gives Russia little added advantage in terms of striking additional targets within Ukraine.
It has likely carried out the deployment mainly to message to the West and to portray Belarus as increasingly complicit in the war.”