Russia test fires hypersonic Kinzhal missile

12 March 2018

Russia claimed to have successfully test-launched a hypersonic missile, one of a range of nuclear-capable weapons announced by president Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

The Russian defence ministry released video footage, which showed the missile detaching from a fighter jet and leaving a fiery trail in its wake.

It added the missile hit the intended target.

On 1 March, Putin had said the Kinzhal missile - named after a type of dagger is "an ideal weapon".

He added it formed part of a new stockpile of "invincible" weapons.

The Kinzhal, which is said to travel at 10 times the speed of sound, is said to have a range of 2,000km (1,200 miles).

According to the defence ministry, the missile was launched from a MiG-31 jet that took off from an airfield in south-west Russia on Saturday.

"The launch went according to plan, the hypersonic missile hit its target," the ministry said, in the backdrop of Russian presidential elections, due in a week's time.

In his annual state of the nation speech on 1 March, Putin played a video graphic that appeared to show missiles raining down on the US state of Florida.

In its response the US state department said this was not "the behaviour of a responsible international player".

The US defence secretary, James Mattis, said that nothing Putin showed off changed anything from the Pentagon's perspective, while speaking to reporters as he travelled to Oman.

''I saw no change to the Russian military capability and each of these systems that he's talking about that are still years away, I do not see them changing the military balance. They do not impact any need on our side for a change in our deterrence posture.''

Among the technologies Putin showed off was a robotic torpedo capable of hitting a US port city, but Mattis said that made no difference as Russia already can target US port cities with missiles.

''It doesn't change anything other than how much money do they want to spend on something that does not change at all the strategic balance,'' he said.

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