What are the hypersonic missiles Russia is using in Ukraine?


Russia unleashed a barrage of high-precision missile attacks on Ukraine that triggered a wave of power cuts and temporarily caused Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant to lose power.

According to Ukraine’s military, Russia is believed to have used six Kinzhals – hypersonic missiles which fly many times faster than the speed of sound.

President Vladimir Putin regularly touts the Kinzhal, which means “dagger” in Russian, as a weapon for which the NATO alliance backing Kyiv has no answer.

Here is what you need to know about the weapon:

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What are hypersonic missiles?

Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound – or about 6,200kmph (3,852mph) – and they can evade advanced radar systems.

There are two major types of hypersonic missiles. One is the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), which leaves the Earth’s atmosphere and then plunges back into it.

The second is the hypersonic cruise missile (HCM) which, while not as fast, flies low and at extremely high speeds, giving opponents little time to react. They can also carry a nuclear warhead.

The Kinzhal is capable of striking targets 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) away at a speed 10 times the speed of sound [File: Sergey Pivovarov/Reuters]


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