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US-Made Patriot System Activated in Europe - Hostile Hypersonic Missile Downed

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Ukraine’s air force claimed Saturday to have downed a Russian hypersonic missile over Kyiv using newly acquired American Patriot defense systems, the first known time the country has been able to intercept one of Moscow’s most modern missiles.

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said in a Telegram post that the Kinzhal-type ballistic missile had been intercepted in an overnight attack on the Ukrainian capital earlier in the week. It also was the first time Ukraine is known to have used the Patriot defense systems.

“Yes, we shot down the ‘unique’ Kinzhal,” Oleshchuk wrote. “It happened during the night-time attack on May 4 in the skies of the Kyiv region.”

Oleshchuk said the Kh-47 missile was launched by a MiG-31K aircraft from Russian territory and was shot down with a Patriot missile.

The Kinzhal is one of the latest and most advanced Russian weapons. The Russian military says the air-launched ballistic missile has a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (about 1,245 miles) and flies at 10 times the speed of sound, making it hard to intercept.

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A combination of hypersonic speed and a heavy warhead allows the Kinzhal to destroy heavily fortified targets, such as underground bunkers or mountain tunnels.

The Ukrainian military has previously acknowledged lacking assets to intercept the Kinzhals.

“They were saying that the Patriot is an outdated American weapon, and Russian weapons are the best in the world,” Ukraine Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said on that country’s Channel 24 television. “Well, there is confirmation that it effectively works against even a super-hypersonic missile.”

He said successfully intercepting the Kinzhal was “a slap in the face for Russia.”

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Ukraine took its first delivery of the Patriot missiles in late April. It has not specified how many of the systems it has or where they have been deployed, but they are known to have been provided by the United States, Germany and the Netherlands.

Germany and the U.S. have acknowledged each sending at least one battery, and the Netherlands has said it has provided two launchers, although it is not clear how many currently are in operation.

Ukrainian troops have received the extensive training needed to be able to effectively locate a target with the systems, lock on with radar, and fire. Each battery requires up to 90 personnel to operate and maintain.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he first asked for Patriot systems when visiting the U.S. in August 2021, months before Russia’s full-scale invasion but seven years after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

He has described possessing the system as “a dream” but said he was told in the U.S. at the time that it was impossible.

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The Patriot was first deployed by the U.S. in the 1980s. The system costs approximately $4 million per missile, and the launchers cost about $10 million each, according to analysts.

At such a cost, it was widely thought that Ukraine would only use the Patriots against Russian aircraft or hypersonic missiles.

He also said that their capability to defend was “significantly enhanced from what they were just a year ago.”

In other developments, officials in both Russia and Ukraine said they had carried out another of their regular exchanges of prisoners of war.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it brought three military pilots back to Russia, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said 45 fighters who defended the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol had been returned to Ukraine.

Also on Saturday, Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces accused Russia of using phosphorus munitions in its attempt to wrest control of the eastern city of Bakhmut from Ukrainian forces.

Russian troops have been trying to take the city for more than nine months, but Ukrainian forces are still clinging to positions on the western outskirts.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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