In a continuing aerial strike on Ukraine, Russia recently employed its AS-24 KILLJOY hypersonic missile, which the country has projected as an “invincible weapon.”
About AS-24 Killjoy
- It is the western reporting name of the Kh-47M2 (Kinzhal), a nuclear-capable, Russian air-launched hypersonic ballistic missile.
- It was one of six “next generation” weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a speech in March 2018.
- It can reach speeds of up to Mach 10 (12,350 km/hr).
- It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads with a payload of up to 480 kg and a thermonuclear option with a 10-50 kt warhead.
- It has a reported range of 1,500-2,000 km.
- It has a length of 8 m, a body diameter of 1 m, and a launch weight of approximately 4,300 kg.
- It is designed to be launched from MiG-31 fighter jets at altitudes of about 18 km (59,000 ft).
- This missile manoeuvres during all stages of its flight to overcome hostile air defence systems.
What are Hypersonic Weapons?
- Hypersonic weapons fly at speeds of at least Mach 5 and are highly maneuverable and able to change course during flight.
- They are different from ballistic missiles, which can also travel at hypersonic speeds (of at least Mach 5) but have set trajectories and limited maneuverability.
- · There are two main categories of hypersonic weapons: hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles.
- o Hypersonic glide vehicles are launched from a rocket. The glide vehicle then separates from the rocket and “glides” at speeds of at least Mach 5 toward a target.
- o Hypersonic cruise missiles are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines.
Q1) What are Ballistic Missiles?
Ballistic missiles are powered initially by a rocket or series of rockets in stages, but then follow an unpowered trajectory that arches upwards before descending to reach its intended target. Ballistic missiles can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads.