This article by Sinéad Baker was originally published by Business Insider.
Russia’s new priority is trying to neutralize Ukraine’s “improved” air defense systems after they successfully shot down missiles that President Vladimir Putin had bragged were unbeatable, according to UK intelligence.
The UK Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Wednesday that Russia has prioritized attempts to neutralize Ukraine’s improved air defense capabilities after it “achieved the first ever shoot-down of a KILLJOY air-launched ballistic missile.”
KILLJOY is NATO’s term for Russia’s advanced Kinzhal missiles, which Russia has previously described as unstoppable.
On Tuesday it said it had shot down six more Kinzhal missiles over the city.
Insider has not been able to independently verify the claim.
The UK MOD did not say how many Russian Kinzhal missiles it believes have been destroyed, merely stating that Russia had lost “several more” KILLJOY missiles in its efforts to target Ukraine’s defense systems.
It’s also not clear how successful Russia’s efforts have been.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Tuesday that a Russian missile destroyed one Patriot air defense system in Kyiv. Ukraine refuted the claim, The Guardian reported.
Two US officials told The New York Times that one Patriot system had been damaged but that it was still operational.
Patriot systems make for easy targets due to the signals they emit, but their best chance of taking out a Kinzhal is actually when they are the target, one expert told Insider.
The US decided to give Ukraine the Patriot defense system last year after Ukraine asked allies for air defense help to repel Russian attacks. Ukraine has at least two Patriot air defense systems.
Ukraine’s air defenses have become increasingly important in the war, with Russia targeting cities far from the front lines.
Ukraine’s defenses, which also include missile systems from the UK and other countries, have stopped many of those attacks.
The destruction of the Kinzhal missiles was a psychological blow for Russia.
The missile’s manufacturer, Rostec, had claimed “there is no countermeasure” to it, with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in August calling it “impossible neither to detect it nor to intercept,” as Insider’s Ryan Pickrell previously reported.
The UK MOD said that the apparent vulnerability of the missiles “is likely a surprise and an embarrassment for Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted the system as undefeatable.”
Meanwhile, experts have disputed the idea that the missile can be called “hypersonic,” as they don’t have the ability for sustained hypersonic flight, even though they can reach those speeds.
Feature Image: A Russian Kinzhal missile mounted on a jet. (OSINTechnical Twitter)
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