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UK intel: Russia’s first use of Kinzhal missile in months results in missed targets and interceptions in Ukraine

Russia launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles at a Ukrainian airfield last week for the first time since August. Missiles missed, and Ukraine intercepted some, per UK intelligence.
mig-31 carries kinzhal missile
Russia’s MiG-31K aircraft carrying a Kinzhal missile. Illustrative image: Wikimedia Commons

Russia used its new Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile (NATO reporting name: AS-24 KILLJOY) to attack a military airfield in central Ukraine last week, the first launch of the weapon since August.

But Britain’s Ministry of Defense states in its December 19 intelligence update that many of the missiles, one of Russia’s vaunted “super weapons,” probably missed their targets, and Ukraine intercepted some.

Ukraine downs one of three Russian Kinzhal missiles targeting airfield with Storm Shadow carriers

The UK Defense Ministry tweeted

  • On 14 December 2023, the Russian Air Force highly likely carried out the first use of a AS-24 KILLJOY air launched ballistic missile since August 2023. Russia launched at least one missile into central Ukraine, likely targeting a military airfield.
  • One of the six ‘super weapons’ President Putin announced in 2018, KILLJOY has been ear-marked to play a major role in Russia’s future military doctrine. In the Ukraine war, Russia has reserved the weapon for what it perceives as high value, well defended targets.
  • KILLJOY has almost certainly had a mixed combat debut. Many of its launches have likely missed their intended targets, while Ukraine has also succeeded in intercepting attacks by this supposedly ‘undefeatable’ system.

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