Russia’s game-changer missile

The MUTANT missile may be just a PR statement while US-NATO feverishly tries to develop an authentic anti-Kinzhal weapon.

Russia caught the US-NATO and Ukraine by surprise with a game-changer missile that may turn the tide in the protracted war in Ukraine.

Russia fired six hypersonic missiles last 9 March into Odessa, Kyiz, and Kharkiv. The Kinzhal (night dagger) missile is capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 10 or ten times the speed of sound. At that speed, the existing air defense system supplied by US-NATO to Ukraine was unable to react fast enough and failed to take out the Kinzhal. It was the first-ever hypersonic missile of its kind used by Russia in its war on Ukraine.

The Kinzhal has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers and is an air-to-surface missile fired from the Mig31 supersonic jet interceptor which itself has speeds of up to Mach4 and can soar up to 25,000 meters.

The Mig31 does not have to enter Ukrainian territory; it can fire the Kinzhal from within Russia and thus avoid the Ukrainian air defense system.

Theoretically, any anti-missile must fly faster than the target missile to take it out. That anti-missile must itself be hypersonic. Also, the Kinzhal can change flight patterns instantaneously and unpredictably. It can avoid detection by diving to a low altitude when it nears the target. Even if it is detected, at Mach10, no defense system is known to be able to react. If US-NATO fails to neutralize the Kinzhal, this may be the turning point in the war or the beginning of a nuclear one.

US-NATO is under extreme pressure to find a way to neutralize the Kinzhal threat. The US claims its anti-hypersonic “twist and tweak” MUTANT (Missile Utility Transformation via Articulated Nose Technology) missiles can take out the Kinzhal. But it is not yet operational. Even if it could out-maneuver the Kinzhal, it may not be able to actually take it out. The MUTANT missile may be just a PR statement while US-NATO feverishly tries to develop an authentic anti-Kinzhal weapon. Russia and China lead the race in hypersonic systems over the US. Russia has two other operational hypersonics that it can use in Ukraine.

Western analysts say Russia has only a few Kinzhals and even at high production speed, it may not be able to make enough for a full-blown assault when push comes to shove.

Putin decided to use the Kinzhal a few days after Ukrainian drones came very close to Moscow. It was perhaps a vendetta and a warning not to bring the war to Russia’s doorstep. Russia claimed it was a “failed attempt,” hitting no civilians or major infrastructure.

The Kinzhal may have the opposite effect of ironically inviting rather than preventing more incursions into Russia. Ukrainian President Zelensky prefers to induce a nuclear war if Ukraine begins to lose to Russia.

In the last few months, of the total of about 80 missiles fired by Russia into Ukraine, about half were neutralized by US-NATO-supplied air defense systems, but not the Kinzhal, which caught them by surprise.

Another possible reason for the use of the deadly Kinzhal is the series of tactical victories of Ukraine over Russia in the last few weeks. The more Russia feels cornered, the more it is compelled to escalate the war. It would perhaps be better, ironically, if Russia gained ground if only to avoid a nuclear war.

Definitely, the Kinzhal is triggering an unprecedented escalation. US-NATO may not dare to take out the Mig31 before it fires the Kinzhal within Russian territory as this is a dangerous escalation. The Kinzhal is capable of carrying a “small” tactical nuclear payload, but perhaps Putin is hesitant to elevate the war to small tactical nukes because he knows this will open the door to a full-blown nuclear confrontation.

We are thus inching closer to a nuclear holocaust, as Russia seeks solutions to its losing ground in Ukraine and US-NATO looks for ways to neutralize the Kinzhal. Lord have mercy, forgive us our sins, and grant us peace.

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