Ukraine’s air force claimed on Saturday to have downed a Russian hypersonic missile Kinzhal over Kyiv using the newly acquired American Patriot missile defence system, the first known time the country has been able to intercept one of Moscow’s most modern missiles. Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said in a Telegram post that the Kinzhal-type ballistic missile had been intercepted in an overnight attack on the Ukrainian capital earlier in the week. It was also the first time Ukraine is known to have used the Patriot defence systems.
“Yes, we shot down the unique’ Kinzhal,” Oleshchuk wrote. “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.
The Kinzhal is one of the latest and most advanced Russian weapons. The Russian military says the air-launched ballistic missile has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,250 miles) and flies at 10 times the speed of sound, making it hard to intercept.
A combination of hypersonic speed and a heavy warhead allows the Kinzhal to destroy heavily fortified targets, like underground bunkers or mountain tunnels.
The Ukrainian military has previously admitted lacking assets to intercept the Kinzhals.
Ukraine took its first delivery of the Patriot missiles in late April. It has not specified how many of the systems it has, but they have been provided by the United States, Germany and the Netherlands.
Germany has acknowledged sending at least one system and the Netherlands has said it has provided two.
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he first asked for Patriot systems when visiting the US in August 2021, months before Russia’s full-scale invasion but seven years after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
He has described possessing the system as “a dream” but said he was told in the US at the time that it was impossible.