Ukraine says it has for the first time used a US-made Patriot air defense system to intercept a Russian hypersonic missile.
Mykola Oleshchuk, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, said on Telegram Saturday: “Yes, we have intercepted the ‘unmatched’ Kinzhal,’” adding an emoji of the Ukrainian flag.
Oleshchuk said the interception happened during a night attack on May 4 in the sky over Kyiv.
The Kh-47 Kinzhal is a hypersonic ballistic missile. It travels 10 times the speed of sound and can be fired far from the battlefield, making them difficult to intercept.
Ukraine has received at least two Patriot systems, one from the United States and one from Germany, to enhance its air defenses, which have previously been unable to intercept more modern Russian missiles such as the Kinzhal.
If it is confirmed that Ukraine successfully shot down Kinzhal it raises questions about Russian capabilities.
Ukrainian air force spokesman Yurii Inhat said Saturday that the Russians said “the Patriot is an outdated American weapon, and Russian weapons are the best in the world.”
“Well, there is confirmation that it effectively works against even a super hypersonic missile,” Ihnat said, adding that intercepting the Kinzhal is “a slap in the face for Russia.”
Last month Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Patriots would be critical in defending Ukrainian infrastructure against ballistic missiles.
“Building a multi-level air and missile defense system as soon as possible is our priority,” he declared. “This is to protect peaceful cities, critical infrastructure, and our people in the rear and at the front. Patriot systems create a capability that did not exist before – to defeat ballistic targets.”