Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (“Dagger”)

June 28, 2018

Quick Facts

Russian/US Designation Kh-47M2 Kinzhal/Dagger
Role and Mobility Deterrence Against NATO; Air-Mobile
Designer/Production Russian Defense Ministry
Range 2,000 km
Warhead Type and Weight Nuclear/Conventional; 480 kg
MIRV and Yield Unknown
Guidance System/Accuracy Inertial Guidance and Satellite Navigation with a Terminal Seeker; Circular Error Probable (CEP) 10-20m[i]
Stages/Propellant One; Solid[ii]
IOC/Retirement 2017; N/A
Status/Number of Units Operational; Deployed on 10 MiG-31B Aircraft


On March 1, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin debuted the Kh-47M2 as one of the six new Russian strategic weapons.[iii] Just over a week later, the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted the first successful test firing of the air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missile.[iv] The missile was fired from a modified MiG-31B over Southwest Russia. It is unknown how far the missile traveled and at what speeds during the test, but the defense ministry said that, “the launch was normal, and the hypersonic missile hit the present target at the test site.”[v]

It has a claimed range of more than 2,000 km, a speed of more than Mach 10, and an ability to perform evasive maneuvers at every stage of flight carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads.[vi]

Reports have since indicated that the Kinzhal missile has entered service and that up to 10 MiG-31s have been modified to carry the missiles. The 10 aircraft deployed on experimental combat duty in the Southern Military District, bordering Ukraine and the Black Sea.[vii]

Strategic Implications

The missile is designed as a deterrence measure against United States and NATO warships posing a threat to missile systems in Russia. It is designed to accelerate to hypersonic speed within seconds of launch and perform maneuvers at any time during flight, allowing it to overcome any known United States air or missile defense systems including the MIM-104 Patriot, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, and the Aegis Combat System.[viii] Also, as an ALBM, the missile can be launched from unpredictable locations possibly straining sectored (non-360 degree) radars, like the ones deployed for the Patriot system.[ix] Its claimed indefensibility threatens , essentially holding the entire area at risk, until a defense can be built; providing Russia substantial strategic leverage.

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