Russian Ministry of Defense/YouTube
- Ukraine reportedly shot down a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile for the first time.
- Photos appear to show the wreckage of the weapon after it fell into a stadium in Kyiv.
- Russia unleashed a fresh wave of attacks on the Ukrainian capital on Thursday evening.
Ukraine said they have shot down a Russian hypersonic missile for the first time using the US-donated Patriot air-defense system.
The commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, Mykola Oleshchuk, said on Telegram Saturday: “Yes, we have intercepted the ‘unmatched’ Kinzhal.'”
He also added the word “Patriot,” alluding to the American-made weapon which arrived in Ukraine in April, and an emoji of the Ukrainian flag.
Images appearing to show the wreckage of a downed missile were obtained by the Ukrainian outlet Defense Express.
The missile fragments fell in an empty stadium in Kyiv in the early hours of Thursday, around the time a loud explosion was reported to have been heard in the capital.
One of the photos shows a nose cone that strongly resembles the one used in the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile, the outlet noted.
The shell has a hole in it, likely from when it was struck by a Ukrainian weapon.
Oleshchuk said the missile had been launched by a MiG-31K aircraft from Russian territory.
A shot of a Patriot missile battery firing an interceptor in a US Army test. The Patriot missile defense system is a ground-based interceptor able to eliminate airborne threats.
US Army photo
The Kremlin has long touted its hypersonic weapons as being impossible to defend against, but defense experts have questioned whether they are as impressive as is claimed.
If Ukraine did successfully intercept a Kinzhal missile, this would mark the first known attempt to take out such a weapon.
The loud bang was heard over Kyiv around the time Russia was bombarding the Ukrainian capital in a fresh wave of attacks.
All of the Russian weapons “were destroyed in Kyiv airspace by our air defense forces,” Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration, wrote on Telegram.
He noted that Moscow had attacked the city with “Shahed-type barrage munitions and missiles, presumably ballistic.”
CNN reported that Ukrainian Air Force Command spokesman Yurii Ihnat told a TV channel on Saturday: “Yes, we do have weapons against ballistics. No-one knew whether the Patriot could operate against ballistic missiles. Well yes, it can.”
“It’s good that we have such weapon. Unfortunately there’s not much of it,” he said.
The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile was introduced in 2017 as one of Russia’s “super weapons.“
While the Kinzhal can travel at hypersonic speeds, a “hypersonic weapon” would also have to be capable of traveling at speeds in excess of Mach 5 — or about 3,836 mph — during terminal maneuvers, which this weapon is not capable of doing, Insider reported.