• Russian Hypersonic Strikes on Ukraine’s New Patriot Missiles Likely Caused Mercenary Casualties - This is Why

    Patriot Battery and MiG-31K with Kinzhal Missile

    On May 16 as part of a broad spectrum of attacks on targets in the Ukrainian capital Kiev Russian Air Force MiG-31K strike fighters launched Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ballistic missiles to target Ukraine’s Patriot air defence systems. Recently delivered from Germany and the United States, Patriots are considered by far the most costly and high end weapons systems in Ukrainian service, and are very widely deployed both by seven NATO members and by key overseas strategic partners such as Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Israel. The strikes on the Patriots followed warnings form Russian officials, as well as from several analysts in the West, that any systems delivered to Ukraine would very quickly be targeted and destroyed after becoming operational. The reputational loss the Patriot was expected to suffer was thus reportedly a major factor leading Washington to hesitate to approve transfers of the assets. While a radar system and five missile batteries from the Patriot system were reported to have been destroyed in the MiG-31K strike, reportedly after firing 32 surface to air missiles as part of unsuccessful attempts to intercept the Kinzhal missiles, little remains known regarding casualties among the system’s crew or the nature of the personnel which were manning it when it was struck.
    With Ukrainian personnel thus unlikely to have been manning the Patriot systems deployed in April and attacked in May, less than five months after the decision was taken to supply the systems, it is likely that contractors from NATO member states with experience operating the Patriots were the ones targeted. The scale of the destruction caused by the strikes means casualties among these personnel are likely, although they are unlikely to be disclosed at least until many years after the war’s conclusion.

    entre les deux passages cités des considérations plus générales sur le rôle des #contractors

    • Why Russia’s Kinzhal Strike on Patriot Missiles is Very Reassuring For North Korea - Security Expert A. B. Abrams

      The Russian Air Force’s successful operation to destroy a Patriot missile system guarding the Ukrainian capital Kiev on May 16, using MiG-31K strike fighters armed with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles, represents the first serious modern suppression effort against Western long range air defences. The engagement for the first time put to the test decades old arguments regarding the vulnerability of these assets against modern ballistic missile types, with systems such as the Kinzhal, the surface to surface Iskander-M system on which it is based, and even the Soviet OTR-23 Oka which the Iskander was developed from, all long seen to be effectively impossible to intercept for new Western air defence assets. The missiles are particularly survivable in flight due to a number of features including their semi ballistic depressed trajectories, which have apogees of 50 km, the ability to conduct extensive in flight manoeuvres, and their hypersonic terminal speeds of close to Mach 9 - all far outside the parameters of a system like the Patriot to intercept. The Kinzhals’ ability to destroy the Patriot, and to evade 32 rounds of surface to air missiles intended to intercept them, thus indicates that the expectations for the near invulnerability of these kinds of missiles have likely been realised. This has serious implications for Russia’s much larger arsenal of Iskander-M systems that forms the backbone of its tactical strike capabilities.
      Regarding the significance of the ability to reliably penetrate Western built air defences, Abrams [expert on East Asian security] observes: “The ability to get past American and allied missile defences is if anything far more important for North Korean security than it is for Russia’s, due not only to the fact that such defence systems are much more concentrated in the Pacific than they are in Europe or the Arctic, but also because the country relies much more on ballistic missile capabilities for its defence than Russia does.” Having previously detailed how investment in systems like the KN-23 provided a key means of countering growing deployments of F-35 fighters to Korea - namely by providing the capability to strike their airfields - he reiterated this point as an example of how modern surface to surface systems were used to compensate for the country’s lack of a modern Air Force. Regarding the potential role of missiles like the KN-23 to facilitate more effective strikes by other classes of missile like the less survivable Scud types, Abrams observed: “With the Kinzhals serving as effective force multipliers by destroying the Patriot early on, and thus facilitating a higher success rate for strikes using larger arsenals of less advanced or subsonic missiles, North Korea can potentially similarly use the KN-23 neutralise enemy air defences and thus leave targeted territories much more vulnerable to its wider arsenals.” The success of the Kinzhal system, and multiple prior successes using the Iskander-M, are thus highly promising signs for North Korea that its investments could have vital asymmetric value to deter and if possible counter a U.S.-led assault, which has been the leading objective of its armed forces for decades.