Russia’s test-launched its Kinzhal ‘aeroballistic’ hypersonic missile from the belly of a MiG-31 fighter jet on Sunday.
“A MiG-31 interceptor jet made a training launch of a Kinzhal high-precision ‘aeroballistic’ hypersonic missile and the missile hit a target on the test range,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced.
The missile is perhaps the first ballistic missile to be launched from an aircraft. It is intended to defeat all known anti-missile systems with its high speed claimed to be several times the speed of sound. The air-launched missile has a range of 2000 km.
The MiG-31 departed from an airfield in the Southern Military District within the framework of a testing air alert. "The launch was normal; the hypersonic missile hit the preset target on the test site," the ministry added.
"Crews of the air system on the testing air alert sorties completed over 250 flights year-to-date under the combat training plan. The air staff has been trained in full scope day and night in various weather conditions," the ministry said.
The system has no counterparts across the globe owing to high flight performance characteristic of the MiG-31 fighter jet and the hypersonic missile with a small radar signature and high maneuverability.The first air unit equipped with the Kinzhal system started test air alert flights to master fundamentals of its combat use since December 1 of the last year.
Russia’s Aerospace Force Commander-in-Chief Sergei Surovikin described the missile saying, “the fast-speed fixed-wing carrier allows delivering a missile with unique performance characteristics to the area of its discharge within minutes. The main propulsion unit mounted on the aero-ballistic missile accelerates a warhead to hypersonic speed within seconds. The missile’s maneuvering at speeds exceeding the speed of sound by several times allows it to reliably breach all air defense and anti-ballistic missile defense systems that exist or are being developed."
During an address to reveal new weapons earlier this month, Russian President Putin said, "the missile flies at hypersonic speed, 10 times greater than the speed of sound, it is maneuvering in all parts of the flight trajectory. This allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, future air-defense and missile-defense systems, delivering to the target nuclear and other warheads at a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers."