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Russian Federation deploys its new missiles in Ukraine conflict

Ukrainian reports indicate a growing trend of Russia employing missile weaponry that they’ve previously either used sparingly or kept in the pipeline. Discussions have centered around missiles such as the Kh-69, Zircon also known as Tsircon, Grom-E1, and even some originating from North Korea. Essentially, Russia seems to be test-driving these new offensive tools and subsequently incorporating them into widespread use. The Kh-69 first grabbed world attention when details emerged about its usage in missile strikes against Ukraine on February 7. This missile, an evolution of its predecessor, the Kh-59, is designed for operational deployment by tactical aircraft and is fabricated with stealth technology for undetectable radar activity. Russian sources claim that the Kh-69 boasts a range of 290 km and packs a robust 310 kg warhead.

The emergence of this missile epitomizes Russia’s ongoing endeavor to close the gap with Western powers in terms of aviation strike capability. This is particularly evident in their counter to the likes of the Storm Shadow/SCALP and JASSM. Furthermore, one should note that the Kh-69 was originally tailor-made for the Su-57 5th generation fighter aircraft. However, it’s quite probable that this missile was deployed in Ukraine aboard the standard Su-34.

On the 7th of February, the weapon that particularly caught attention was the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile deployed by the Russians. Initially, there was speculation that this system would evolve into a comprehensive hypersonic complex with a glider warhead, which would set it apart from the Kh-47 Kinzhal [Dagger]. Ukrainian military specialists suggest this latter missile system to be an aeroballistic missile, rather than a fully-fledged hypersonic missile. This opinion is also shared by some Western experts. 

Regardless of these debates, on the morning of February 7th, news surfaced about a supposed Onyx missile launch from Crimea heading towards a high-speed target in Kyiv. Subsequent reports, however, dismissed this target as an illusion, a handiwork of Electronic Warfare operations. Following this event, debris with unique markings was discovered in Kyiv. Information about the Onyx missile launch, coupled with the missile’s unusual trajectory, started circulating on surveillance channels. Interestingly, these surveillance sources also reported that the speed of the Zircon missile was slower than what is typically classified as hypersonic.

Grom-E1 [Thunder]

Only a handful of instances involving the deployment of hybrid bombs and Grom-E1 missiles are known to have occurred during the war. Alarmingly, the use of these weapons has been reported twice in the last month, specifically in the Kherson region and Mirnograd. Each warhead weighs a hefty 315 kg and has a devastating reach of up to 120 km when launched from a height of 12 km. 

In essence, the Grom-E1 bears similarities to the French AASM Hammer ammunitions. They belong to a more sophisticated and pricier category than the conventional FABs famously used by the Russians with the UMPK. Unlike the FABs, Grom-E1s are heavily deployed, so much so that Ukrainian reports suggest more than 80 bombs are dropped every single day onto Avdiivka by the UMPK alone.

Hwasong-11A (KN-23) Ukraine has reported that North Korean Hwasong-11A [KN-23] missiles were used in conjunction with S-300 missiles to launch an attack on Selidovo in the Donetsk region, on the night of February 8. In previous instances, such missiles have purportedly been spotted flying over Kharkiv, notably during the missile attack that took place on February 7. This situation leads to the supposition that the Russian Federation might control Korean missile systems across multiple front-line areas. There’s a possibility that the number of these systems could increase, but it’s uncertain whether they are operated by Russians or Korean military advisers.

The frontline of warfare is seeing significant deployment of advanced missile weaponry, particularly around Avdiivka where Russian forces are attempting a takeover before the electoral period. This would make a powerful statement to their domestic electorate. 

Meanwhile, influential figures in the West are presently in the throes of decision-making, looking to hinder further military assistance to Ukraine. This tactic is intended to carve a beneficial position for potential future negotiations.

Sources: CNN NEWS

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