More landmark news has emerged from Kyiv. Overnight, from May 15 into May 16, Russia is said to have launched a barrage of 18 missiles at the Ukrainian capital, including six Kh-47 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said that all 18 missiles had been successfully intercepted and destroyed, including the Kinzhals.
If this is true, it would reportedly be the second time that the Kinzhal has been neutralized in the conflict. Prior to the delivery of the Patriot air and missile defense system to Ukraine, the country had been unable to intercept the Kinzhal, which has a claimed top speed of between Mach 4 and Mach 10 (approximately 3,069 mph and 7,673 mph).
The Patriot system utilizes the Raytheon Technologies MPQ-65 radar, which was first deployed over 20 years ago. It has received numerous updates since, earning the next-generation designation of MPQ-65A, but it is an aging system. Its phased array, originally powered by traveling wave tubes (TWTs), now operates in a world where most air defense systems have switched to active electronically scanned arrays (AESAs) powered by gallium nitride (GaN) components. In the U.S., the Patriot is soon to be equipped with a successor radar, the GhostEye Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS (also designed by Raytheon Technologies).
Contrary to assertions made by Ukraine through its Zvezda military news service, Russia said that one of the Kinzhals made it through the air defense network and destroyed a Patriot system. If true, this could prove to be a serious setback for Ukraine’s defensive efforts, as the Patriot is the only technology that has claims to taking out the Kinzhal’s hypersonic threat.