The UAF has had trouble with defending against the more advanced hypersonic Russian missiles until a few days ago.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine on Saturday said it had used the U.S.-made Patriot air defense system to shoot down a Russian hypersonic missile in the skies over the Kyiv capital region — demonstrating that it now has the ability to thwart one of Moscow’s most-feared weapons.
Until now, the hypersonic missile, called Kinzhal, “Dagger” in Russian, had been unstoppable by Ukraine, and several had struck targets since the start of Russia’s war in February 2022. Traveling five times faster than the speed of sound, and at a lower elevation than traditional ballistic missiles, the Kinzhal was too fast for Ukraine’s air defenses to even react.
“Congratulations to the Ukrainian people on a historic event!” the head of Ukraine’s air command, Mykola Oleshchuk posted, along with a lightning bolt emoji. “Yes, we brought down the ‘unparalleled’ Kinzhal!”
On May 5, the Defense Express publication analyzed debris of the intercepted missile and concluded that Ukrainian forces had downed a hypersonic Russian Kinzhal missile, which the country was previously unable to intercept. However, Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat refuted these claims at the time, though the Ukrainian military confirmed that a Kinzhal had been intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses on May 6.
In April, Kyiv received Patriot air defense systems from the United States, the Netherlands, and Germany, which marks a significant development in the country’s military capabilities and defense against Russian aggression.
The U.S. officials said that they had received information about the strike from the Ukrainian military through classified channels. One official added that U.S. military analysts were able to verify the claim using technical means. Nevertheless, independent analysts were reluctant to confirm the interception until more information was available about the type of missile Russia fired and whether it was hit by a Patriot.
The Patriot is by far the most expensive single weapon system that the United States has supplied to Ukraine, at a total cost of about $1.1 billion: $400 million for the system and $690 million for the missiles.