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29 Dec, 2023 16:32

Russian supersonic missiles are unstoppable – Ukraine

Kiev is asking for more US-made Patriots despite admitting its current systems haven’t been effective
Russian supersonic missiles are unstoppable – Ukraine

Kiev’s forces have been unable to shoot down a single Kh-22 or Kh-32 supersonic cruise missile out of around 300 allegedly launched so far by Russia, Ukrainian Air Force Command spokesperson Yury Ignat has disclosed.

His comments came after Moscow launched a major missile attack against targets across the country over the past two days. The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that it carried out 50 “group strikes” as well as a single “massive” barrage using precision missiles and drones this week, targeting defense industry sites as well as military airfields and depots.

Ukrainian officials have reported that as many as 158 separate launches were detected on late Thursday evening and Friday morning, with Ignat stating that “we have never seen so many targets on our monitors simultaneously.” Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, has claimed that 27 drones and 87 cruise missiles were intercepted during the attacks. 

However, one of the biggest challenges for Ukrainian air defense systems is the Russian Kh-22 missile and its modernized variant, the Kh-32, according to Ignat. He explained that the missile travels at a speed of 4,000kph and follows a ballistic trajectory, meaning that intercepting it requires “special equipment” such as the US-made Patriot air defense system. 

The Kh-22 ‘Storm’ is a supersonic long-range air-launched anti-ship cruise missile originally developed in the USSR. The Kh-32 is a deeply modernized version of its predecessor and acts as a supersonic air-to-surface cruise missile with a range of up to 1,000km. 

The air force spokesman claimed that since the launch of Moscow’s military operation in February 2022, Russian forces have fired 300 Kh-22 and Kh-32 rockets across Ukraine. He stated that Ukrainian air defense systems have not been able to intercept a single one of them. 

Kiev has already received several Patriot systems from its Western backers earlier this year. It has reportedly used them to strike targets over the Russian border, despite vowing not to use the donated weapons outside of territories it claims as its own. Last month, the Ukrainian military claimed that it had used the US systems in May to take down five military aircraft in Russia’s Bryansk Region, including two fighter jets and three helicopters. Russia, however, has not confirmed the attacks. 

While Kiev has continued to demand more advanced weapons systems from the US and its allies, Washington has reiterated that it would only provide them on condition that Ukraine does not use them to attack Russian territories. US Army General Mark Milley stressed in May that “this is a Ukrainian war. It is not a war between the United States and Russia. It’s not a war between NATO and Russia.” 

Russia has repeatedly denounced the West over the arms shipments, warning that they will only prolong the fighting and lead to more bloodshed without changing the outcome of the conflict. Moscow has also stressed that any Western arms that make it to Ukraine will be considered legitimate targets and will promptly be destroyed.