Russia employs ‘superweapon’ against Ukraine for first time in months

The United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry last week published an intelligence update regarding Russia’s use of a “super weapon” in Ukraine.

The update was published to the ministry’s X, formerly Twitter, account.

“On 14 December 2023, the Russian Air Force highly likely carried out the first use of an AS-24 KILLJOY air-launched ballistic missile since August 2023,” the UK Defense Ministry stated. “Russia launched at least one missile into central Ukraine, likely targeting a military airfield.”

Last week, the Independent noted that late last month, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that Russia was stockpiling missiles to conduct a missile campaign throughout the winter.

The secretary-general added that the missile campaign would target crucial Ukrainian infrastructure in civilian areas behind the front lines.

A Sukhoi Su-25 jet fighter flies during a drill at the Russian southern Stavropol region, March 12, 2015. (credit: REUTERS/EDUARD KORNIYENKO )

The KILLJOY’s capabilities

The US-based think tank noted that the missile accelerates to Mach 4 (roughly 3,000 miles per hour) after launch and may reach speeds as fast as Mach 10 (roughly 7,673 miles per hour).

The KILLJOY is “one of the six ‘super weapons’ President Putin announced in 2018,” the UK Defense Ministry added. “KILLJOY has been earmarked to play a major role in Russia’s future military doctrine. In the Ukraine war, Russia has reserved the weapon for what it perceives as high value, well-defended targets.”

In May, Reuters reported that the missile was used for the first time in combat when Russia stated it had fired one at a munitions dump in southwestern Ukraine in March of the previous year.

Reuters also noted that Russia had sent KILLJOY-armed fighter jets to Syria in 2021.

“KILLJOY has almost certainly had a mixed combat debut,” the Defense Ministry’s post concluded. “Many of its launches have likely missed their intended targets, while Ukraine has also succeeded in intercepting attacks by this supposedly ‘undefeatable’ system.”

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