We Have Questions About Russia’s Claimed Kinzhal Hypersonic Missile Use In Ukraine (Updated)

We Have Questions About Russia’s Claimed Kinzhal Hypersonic Missile Use In Ukraine (Updated)

The apparent first use of Russia’s air-launched hypersonic ballistic missile against a target in Ukraine doesn’t all add up.

March 19, 2022

MiG31 Kinzhal Ukraine

Getty Images/Russian MOD

The Russian Ministry of Defense released a video early Saturday that it claimed showed a Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile hitting a Ukrainian missile warehouse about 300 miles southwest of Kyiv. The strike, if it did occur, would represent both the first known use of the Kinzhal in combat and yet another Russian attack on facilities in western Ukraine near the country’s borders with multiple NATO members. But there are elements of Russia’s claims that don’t quite add up and the implications of the use of Kinzhal in the conflict are limited, regardless.

Author’s Note: We have a major update to this story at the bottom of the page

The MiG-31-launched Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” or “Dagger” missile — which Russia claims can be conventionally or nuclear-armed — first emerged as one of Russia’s ‘super weapons’ unveiled in a fiery speech from Vladimir Putin in 2018. The War Zone was subsequently the first outlet to identify it as a modified Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile adapted for air-launch. The MiG-31’s ability to reach high-speed and high-altitude prior to release gives Kinzhal a major boost in range and speed over its ground-launched cousin. It also can modify its trajectory outside of a traditional ballistic arc. This and its speed make it challenging to intercept. It’s also worth noting that we still don’t know if it also packs a similar decoy-launching capability as the Iskander-M was recently revealed to possess, which could also help it penetrate air defenses.

Kinzhal is also said to have an anti-ship capability, although the true nature of its abilities in this regard are unclear. It is possible that a conventional anti-ship role remains aspirational and it could only be used in that role via its nuclear option, or if it is fitted with an active radar seeker capable of targeting moving vessels. So far, we know stocks of these weapons are limited, as are their modified MiG-31 launch platforms, but they have deployed to Syria and Kaliningrad recently, indicating an expansion of their operations. Speed and range estimates for the missile vary greatly, but somewhere in between Mach 5 and 12 and 900-1,6000 miles is generally what is assumed. 

Now, getting back to this Kinzhal strike in Ukraine, there are several questions we have about the Russian MoD’s video that is claimed to show the Kinzhal strike in question, seen here: 

The claimed target was an underground missile storage facility in Delyatyn, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. A quick check of maps shows the Delyatyn base on the north side of the Carpathian Mountains, close to Ukraine’s borders with Romania and Hungary. Delyatyn fits the bill for a missile or ammunition storage facility, with bunkers built into terrain and away from built-up civilian areas.

The War Zone hasn’t yet been able to geolocate the supposed target using commercial satellite imagery that matches what is seen in the video, which appears more like a large above-ground warehouse or barn. There’s also a distinct lack of secondary explosions as one would expect when rocket fuel and explosives cook-off. It’s still possible a Kinzhal hit the base, but the video is suspect at a minimum.

The use of Kinzhal to hit this target is also further evidence of how Ukraine’s air defenses remain a potent deterrent to Russian forces. They have been remarkably effective against Russian aircraft, and have had some success against cruise missiles, as well, but that has not stopped cruise missiles from delivering successful attacks to targets in Ukraine’s far west. Regardless, it is becoming crystal clear that Russia remains unwilling or unable to fly manned strike aircraft against targets that far west given the Ukrainian counter-air threat.

But beyond Kinzhal’s standoff range and it being designed to defeat air defenses, it isn’t clear why this target necessitated its use. The hardened nature of the supposed weapons bunker would potentially make a ballistic missile a good choice to destroy it, but Russia has far more conventional Iskander-M ground-launched ballistic missiles that can be employed to do so.

But considering air defenses were clearly a reason to use such a high-end capability to hit the weapons bunker, it further begs the question of how a lowly Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle managed to get over the supposed target area to film the attack. 

Orlan-10’s range is typically stated to be between 120 and 150 kilometers, or between around 75 and 93 miles. However, it is said to be able to conduct operations out to a range of 600 kilometers, or almost 373 miles, in an “off-line mode” along a preplanned route where it can record video footage, but not transmit it in real-time. One of these drones recently reportedly crashed in northwestern Romania more than a week ago, suggesting that they have been employed in this general region of Ukraine before. With these ranges in mind, an Orlan-10 could potentially fly to this part of Ukraine from southern Belarus, but could also have been launched from Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria. Nevertheless, the fact that it was just flying around this remote target area indicates that recording the strike was well worth losing the drone over or that it happened in a different area altogether.

There’s also an element of further messaging to NATO here, allegedly using one of Russia’s most advanced offensive capabilities against another Ukrainian base close to the border. You can read about our coverage of the Russians’ strike on a former NATO training base near the Polish border last week here.

Also, as we predicted before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine kicked off, the Kremlin would eventually use the conflict to showcase its most advanced capabilities and weapons innovations. This also fits into the strategic messaging component.

Above all else, maybe the most pressing question is why was this capability used now? Why weren’t Kinzhals used during the opening hours and days of the conflict to blind command and control, knock out air defenses, and neuter the enemy’s ability to effectively fight in a coordinated manner? That question is still very much up for debate as is Russia’s overall capacity to execute a modern integrated military operation. But in the meantime, the peculiar use of standoff weapons, and in small numbers, tells a lot about Russia’s stocks of precision-guided weaponry — although these revelations are not really all that new — and especially when it comes to the more expensive and advanced standoff kind. Maybe it is a sign that Iskander-M stocks are already running low.

In the end, not everything adds up here. That’s just the reality. It is just as possible we are seeing a standard Iskander-M attack in the video as one by Kinzhal, although maybe we will get more proof otherwise. The fact that sources in the U.S. government have also confirmed Kinzhal’s use points to the possibility that maybe its target was different than what was claimed, and this would fit with the discrepancies with the video. It’s also possible that the U.S. assessment will change as this is still a very new development.

We will keep you informed as we find out more.

UPDATE: 5:20 PM EST—

We can now say for certain that the strike depicted happened nowhere near the western part of the country and not at some major military weapons storage area. It happened at a heavily bombarded rural area in the far eastern area of Ukraine:

In satellite imagery The War Zone obtained from Planet Labs, you can clearly see the farm featured in the video. It was partially destroyed by the time the image was taken, on March 12th, 2022, a week before this video was released and news of Kinzhal’s use was distributed:

This also answers our question as to the UAV’s presence above the target area. The anti-air threat is nothing in Ukraine’s east as it is in the west. This also calls into question, even more, why a missile of Kinzhal’s nature would be used on a target close to Russian territory and on what appears to be a farm’s barn or large chicken coup.

With all this in mind, it is very unlikely we are seeing a Kinzhal missile being used in the video. Whether or not one was used at all, we cannot answer that. Maybe there was another target somewhere, but this was not it.

We will continue to look into the matter and keep you updated as to what we find out.

Contact the authors: Tyler@thedrive.com and Stetson.Payne@thewarzone.com

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https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/44840/we-have-questions-about-russias-claimed-kinzhal-hypersonic-missile-use-in-ukraine

Live Updates: China Eastern Plane Crashes

Live Updates: China Eastern Plane Crashes

More than 130 people were on board, according to Chinese state media reports. There was no immediate information on casualties or why the plane went down.

Updated March 21, 2022, 5:13 a.m. ETJust nowChina Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 planes in Taiyuan, China, in 2014.Jon Woo/Reuters

A passenger plane with over 130 people on board crashed on Monday afternoon in a mountainous area in southern China, sending rescue teams rushing to the site in search of survivors.

The Boeing 737 plane, operated by China Eastern Airlines, went down in the Guangxi region, and flames and smoke could be seen rising from a hillside, initial Chinese news reports said, citing local officials.

“Currently a rescue team has assembled and is approaching,” said an online report issued by Chinese state television. “The situation with casualties remains unclear.”

Initial reports said the plane had crashed in Teng County in Guangxi while flying from Kunming, a city in southwest China, to Guangzhou, a city in the country’s far south. The plane was carrying 132 people, including 123 passengers and 9 crew members, said The Paper, a news website in Shanghai.

Footage shared by Chinese internet users showed a densely wooded hillside in flames, while explosions sounded, but the location of the footage was unclear.

The crash could become one of China’s worst air disasters in many years, after a succession of deadly accidents in the 1990s. Over the past two decades, the country has established a relatively safe flying record, thanks to a young fleet of planes and stricter air controls.

Chaotic death recording during the pandemic could mean thousands were WRONGLY blamed on Covid | Daily Mail Online

Did official figures overestimate Britain’s Covid death toll? The chaotic way mortalities were recorded during the pandemic could mean thousands were WRONGLY blamed on the virus
— Read on www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-10630753/Chaotic-death-recording-pandemic-mean-thousands-WRONGLY-blamed-Covid.html

Justice Clarence Thomas Has Been Hospitalized

More SCOTUS News This Week as Justice Clarence Thomas Has Been Hospitalized

More SCOTUS News This Week as Justice Clarence Thomas Has Been Hospitalized

The upcoming confirmation hearing of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is not the only U.S. Supreme Court news this week. Justice Clarence Thomas, who is 73, was hospitalized on Friday with flu-like symptoms and has been diagnosed with an infection. Reports from Sunday night cite Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe.

According to an ABC News report from Devin Dwyer:

Thomas was admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Friday evening after experiencing flu-like symptoms, Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe said in a statement. 

He was diagnosed with an infection after undergoing tests and is being treated with intravenous antibiotics, McCabe said. She did not provide more details on the nature of the infection. 

“His symptoms are abating, he is resting comfortably, and he expects to be released from the hospital in a day or two,” McCabe said. “Justice Thomas will participate in the consideration and discussion of any cases for which he is not present on the basis of the briefs, transcripts and audio of the oral arguments.”

Behind 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer, who is retiring, Justice Thomas is the oldest justice currently on the bench. He is also the most senior justice, having been nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the bench. 

Clarence Thomas” is currently trending on Twitter in response to the news. 

Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni Thomas, have also been in the news in recent days when it comes to particularly relentless attacks from the mainstream media, some of them having been published when he was in the hospital, though it was not yet announced at the time. On March 16, MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan wrote about “Why Democrats should impeach Justice Clarence Thomas.”

Pennsylvania Video Shows Ballot Trafficker Dumping Handfuls of Ballots into Ballot Drop Box in Montgomery County – Video Shows More than 100 People Dropping More than 1 Ballot into Drop Box in Just a Few Hours (VIDEO)

www.thegatewaypundit.com/2022/03/pennsylvania-video-shows-ballot-trafficker-dumping-handfuls-ballots-ballot-drop-box-montgomery-county-video-shows-100-people-dropping-1-ballot-drop-box-just/

ZUCKERBERG-BREYER INTERVIEW, OCT. 26, 2005 STANFORD CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

I was looking for something earlier so I took a little stroll through my research stash. I came across this from 2005. The years years in a rear are always interesting to look back on!
On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room.

An earlier inspiration for Facebook may have come from Phillips Exeter Academy, the prep school from which Zuckerberg graduated in 2002. It published its own student directory, “The Photo Address Book”, which students referred to as “The Facebook”. Such photo directories were an important part of the student social experience at many private schools. With them, students were able to list attributes such as their class years, their friends, and their telephone numbers.

The face of innocence. Just a real smart guy trying to do something great for society…. 2004

Mark Zuckerberg 2004
Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Just a few quick facts

Mark Zuckerberg EARLY ON

Zuckerberg attended the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer camp when he was young.

Zuckerberg began using computers and writing software in middle school. His father taught him Atari BASIC Programming in the 1990s, and later hired software developer David Newman to tutor him privately.

During Zuckerberg’s high-school years, he worked under the company name Intelligent Media Group to build a music player called the Synapse Media Player.

On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room… He actually dropped out of Harvard.

LOOK AT HIM NOW!

Mark Zuckerberg Net Worth and Income Source

Facebook is  Mark Zuckerberg’s primary income source.

REAL TIME NET WORTH

$67.3B as of 3/11/22

One year later after he left Harvard this quy was being interviewed and speaking at the STANFORD CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

HERE is the transcript :

TRANSCRIPTION OF INTERVIEW WITH MARK ZUCKERBERG GIVEN BY JAMES W. BREYER AT THE ENTREPRENEURIAL THOUGHT LEADERS SEMINARS, STANFORD CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, MS&E 472, AUTUMN QUARTER 2005.

Zuckerberg-Breyer Interview/ Transcript/Stanford Center for Professional Development Oct 26 2005

Page 1 of 47

ZUCKERBERG-BREYER INTERVIEW, OCT. 26, 2005

STANFORD CENTER FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

CDC reports fewer COVID-19 pediatric deaths after data correction

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 966,575 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday after it corrected the data earlier this week, which reduced the death tallies in all age-groups, including children.

The health agency, in a statement to Reuters, said it made adjustments to its COVID Data Tracker’s mortality data on March 14 because its algorithm was accidentally counting deaths that were not COVID-19-related.

The adjustment resulted in removal of 72,277 deaths previously reported across 26 states, including 416 pediatric deaths, CDC said.

The reduction cut the CDC’s estimate of deaths in children by 24% to 1,341 as of March 18.
— Read on news.yahoo.com/cdc-reports-fewer-covid-19-204027980.html