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Media: Russia modernizes Kh-101 cruise missiles to strike targets in Ukraine more precisely, intelligence says

Russian cruise missile, possibly the Kh-101, reportedly destroyed by soldiers of Ukraine’s Kyiv-based National Guard unit with small arms fire on 29 December 2023. Photo: Facebook/27 Печерська бригада Національної гвардії України

Russia has upgraded Kh-101 cruise missiles, which are usually launched from Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers, on Ukrainian cities, said Main Military Intelligence Directorate Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi in Davos, as per UkrInform

Recently, Russia has intensified airstrikes on Ukraine, the country’s infrastructure, and its military-industrial complex with a record number of missiles and drones – 158. In December 2023, at least 26 people were killed and 120 injured in Russia’s largest strike since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

As missile attacks continue to stretch Ukraine’s military resources, the country seeks to strengthen its air defense with foreign systems. 

“The enemy is learning and learning quite quickly. I’ll give you an example: Kh-101 cruise missiles are completely different from those used in 2022. Today, it is a missile with an active electronic warfare system, with active protection, heat traps”, said Skibitskyi.

The Intelligence deputy chief added that Ukraine needs to develop air defense, defense of the military-industrial complex and its production, and take counteroffensive measures to prevent the loss of territories to fight off Russia’s aggression. 

According to the Kyiv Security Forum, the international discussion platform, in recent months, Russia has also employed new tactics to overcome Ukraine’s air defense systems. 

For instance, Russians have used the tactic of overloading Ukrainian air defense, launching a large number of high-speed missiles,  including Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missiles, Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, anti-aircraft missiles from S-300/400 systems, and Kh-22 cruise missiles, during an attack. These tactics prompt Ukrainian defenders to expend three or more antimissiles on each target.

In addition, Russia launched several Kh-31P anti-radar missiles on Ukraine in each massive attack in previous months. This weapon was designed for destroying radar-based air defense systems, such as a Gepard anti-aircraft self-propelled system and a MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system. The supersonic speed of the missile poses a significant challenge for Ukraine’s air defense units to intercept it effectively.

The Kyiv Security Forum has also suggested that one of the purposes of Russian attacks is likely to continue terrorizing peaceful Ukrainian civilians.

Open sources have documented that some Russian missiles launched on Ukraine detonated on the ground in residential areas, resulting in damage that far exceeds the cost of the missile.

Earlier, Skibitskyi reported a shift in Russian targeting from Ukraine’s energy sector last winter to the facilities of the Ukrainian defense industry. However, the threat to the country’s energy sector still looms, he said. 

Ukrainian intel: Russia’s recent missile attacks targeted Ukraine’s defense industry

Russia conducted a campaign to destroy the Ukrainian energy infrastructure that lasted from the fall of 2022 to the spring of 2023, damaging multiple energy facilities across the country and causing massive blackouts in multiple regions. Russia’s latest air attacks did not target the power facilities.

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