The footage, showing a MiG-31K fighter jet carrying a hypersonic Kinzhal missile, was released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Friday. The aircraft deploys the munition, which is seen free-falling for a few moments. The missile then shoots off a shroud from its engines and blasts away.
Kinzhal missiles are said to be able to travel at least 10 times faster than sound, which makes it a very hard – if not an impossible – target to intercept. The munitions have an operational range of at least 1,000 km – and since they are air-deployed their effective range is actually higher, as carrier aircraft can initially bring them close to their target.
So far, the missiles have been mounted on a modified variant of the iconic long-range interceptor – the MiG-31k (K for Kinzhal). The munitions are expected to be fitted on other platforms as well, namely the Tu-22M3 long-range bomber, as well as the fifth-gen Su-57 fighter jets. While the cutting-edge fighter is likely to carry a single Kinzhal, the Tu-22M3s are expected to carry up to four bulky munitions.
The Kinzhal launches came as a part of massive naval drills, held in the Black Sea by the country’s Northern and Black Sea Fleets. The exercise, involving over 30 warships and 40 aircraft, also featured launches of Kalibr cruise missiles, as well as a rare operation of the Utyos coastal missile system, located in Russia’s Crimea region.
The drills were attended by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin himself, who oversaw the exercise from aboard the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser.
Maintaining and upgrading the navy remains “one of the most important, if not the key” priority of the country, Putin stated, adding that Moscow will do its best to ensure that the Navy meets the demands of modern warfare and is equipped with the most sophisticated weaponry.