According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, a strike by the Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile system in Kyiv on May 16, 2023, targeted and destroyed a multifunctional radar station as well as five launchers of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system that was manufactured in the United States.
In a summary of how the special military operation in Ukraine was going on May 16, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation said that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation delivered a concentrated strike with long-range precision weapons from the air and the sea on the points where the Armed Forces of Ukraine were stationed and on the places where ammunition, weapons, and military equipment from Western countries were being stored. All of the items on the list are hit.
Sergei Popko, who is in charge of the military administration in Kyiv, stated that the attack in the capital on May 16 was “unprecedented in its density.” Overnight, Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles and drones, many of which were directed at Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Ukraine reported successfully shooting down all 18 missiles fired against Kyiv. Air defence systems are believed to have intercepted hypersonic missiles, according to officials in Kyiv and one official in the United States. They said this demonstrates Ukraine’s developing capabilities to defend itself against Russia’s aerial weapons.
Kyiv claimed to have shot down six Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, but Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu stated in an interview with Russian media outlets that Ukraine’s claims were false and that only a couple of Russian missiles could penetrate Kyiv’s defences. Earlier, he had said that Kyiv had shot down more missiles than Moscow had fired.
According to unofficial web and social media information, at least two Patriot air defence missile launchers at Kyiv’s Zhuliany airport were reportedly destroyed after a Kinzhal missile struck them. The information presented here comes from video footage taken during the Russian missile attack on Ukrainian air defence facilities in the Kyiv area. As per the sources, there were three loud explosions in Kyiv. It is unknown how many Kinzhal missiles were used or how many struck their targets. According to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, they could shoot down six Kinzhal missiles, which is improbable.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence announced on April 19 that the first PAC-3 battery had been activated and was ready for service. The German Air Force originally sent this battery, and it later received two launchers from the Dutch military. On April 26, the second battery, previously stationed in United States Army training units, was finalised in preparation for active deployment. The Russian hit on the night of May 16 was aimed at the “American” battery. This battery most likely contained the PAC-3 anti-missile systems, which were the target of the attack.
As can be seen in the videos, anti-aircraft missiles launched from the Patriot PAC-3 complex in the Zhulian area were used to thwart the assault carried out by the Russian military. As many as 30 or 32 missiles were in use throughout the incident. Photographic evidence shows the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been provided with new PAC-3 anti-missiles. This evidence is tied to the first iteration of PAC-3 CRI (Cost Reduction Initiative). It was not the latest PAC-3 MSE (Missile Segment Enhancement), which has a two-pulse solid rocket motor. Also, it is evident from the number of launches that they are M902 launchers employing regular PAC-3 CRI ammunition.
The entire battery did not take the damage. A battery has between one and two radars and eight or more launchers. Since the Patriot system was seen in the video firing 30-32 rounds, the Kinzals likely struck empty launchers, which are replaceable.
CNN, an American news network, reported on May 16, 2023, that the Russian shelling of Kyiv and its environs in the early morning of May 16 local time likely damaged but did not destroy, the American Patriot anti-aircraft missile system supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces. A US official confirmed this to CNN.
The United States is still determining the full scope of the damage to the Patriot system, the source told CNN. This will determine if the entire system needs to be rolled down, presumably transferred for repairs outside of Ukraine, or if Ukrainian forces can fix the damage on the spot. According to another US official, one of the Patriot SAM battery cells may have been hit.
Later, two US officials informed the news organisation that the attack had damaged a Patriot system but that the Patriot remained operational against all threats.
The Kinzal hypersonic missile can speed up to Mach 10 and travel over 2,000 km before running out of fuel. About 500 kilogrammes in weight, the warhead can be loaded with either conventional or nuclear weapons. The Russian military now places a high premium on this hypersonic missile, which can be carried by a MiG-31 Aircraft or a Tu-22M3 strategic bomber.
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