The successful operation by the Russian Aerospace Forces to destroy the Patriot air defense system in Kiev on May 16, using the MiG-31K Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile, represents the first serious modern attempt to suppress Western long-range air defense systems. This was reported by Military Watch, assessing possible further risks.
According to Western analysts and the press, what happened in Kiev for the first time put to the test the old decades-old arguments about the vulnerability of these air defense systems against modern types of ballistic missiles, including the Iskander-M OTRK of the ground-to-ground class, on the basis of which the Dagger was created. ". At one time, the Soviet OTR-23 Oka, on the basis of which the Iskander was developed, were also considered difficult targets for Western air defense systems.
The publication drew attention to the fact that the Russian "Dagger" has greater survivability in flight due to its performance characteristics. Thus, its semi-ballistic trajectory with an apogee of 50 km, the ability to perform various maneuvers and the final hypersonic speed in the Mach 9 region are far beyond the capabilities of intercepting the Patriot. The ability of the "Dagger" to destroy the "Patriot", evading 32 missiles fired, indicates that the expectations of a relatively high degree of invulnerability of these missiles have been confirmed. This has serious implications for the much larger arsenal of Iskander-M systems that form the backbone of Moscow's tactical strike capability.
But the capabilities of the Kinzhal are of great importance not only for Russia and foreign buyers of the Iskander-M, but also for the DPRK, which has deployed and is very rapidly building up capabilities since 2019 with capabilities very similar to the Iskander. In particular, we are talking about the KN-23 system, which, although similar, has a number of differences - a much longer range and a variety of carrier platforms (wheeled, tracked and rail). Moreover, all wheeled vehicles use Belarusian MZKT-7930 tractors with an 8 × 8 wheel arrangement with a carrying capacity of 17,8 to 25 tons.
Kinzhal's neutralization of the Patriot system in Kiev indicates that North Korean KH-23s could very well do the same against Patriots, THAAD and other Western systems deployed in South Korea and Japan. The fact that missiles that are only hypersonic on their final trajectory have this capability also bodes well for the potential of the hypersonic gliders that the DPRK first unveiled in mid-2021—they fly at hypersonic speeds along their entire trajectory, and they are significantly harder to track or intercept than even missiles like the Kinzhal
- told the publication an expert on security in East Asia, E. B. Abrams.
North Korea has spent decades developing means to improve the survivability of its missiles, including through the development of maneuverable reentry vehicles for its first-generation Scud munitions. They were even exported to Syria to counter Israel's deployment of American Patriot air defense systems. Since then, Pyongyang has achieved certain positive results for itself.
The ability to overcome US and allied missile defenses is much more important to the security of North Korea than to the security of Russia, not only because of the fact that such defense systems are much more concentrated in the Pacific than in Europe or the Arctic, but also because the country relies much more on the capabilities of ballistic missiles for its defense than the Russian Federation
The success of the Kinzhal and numerous previous successes using the Iskander-M are promising for the DPRK. Pyongyang's investment in the KH-23 could be vital as the US not only rapidly modernizes its forces in East Asia, but has also repeatedly come close to striking its adversary, which in some cases have included plans for a massive use of nuclear weapons. KN-23s can neutralize enemy air defenses, making target areas (a huge number of military bases of the United States and its allies) much more vulnerable to their wider arsenals (subsonic and other missiles), summed up the media.