A week after Ukraine claimed it shot down a Russian hypersonic missile with a Patriot system, the United States is confirming it. More so, the hypersonic weapon was targeting the Patriot missile system that shot it down.
The incident occurred on May 4. CNN first reported the details of the shootdown, citing two American officials. Per CNN, Russian forces targeted one Patriot system, using the very radar signature the weapon uses in order to identify incoming attacks. The Ukrainian crew operating the system fired several missiles that attacked the hypersonic from different angles, taking it out.
The Ukrainian air defenders fired multiple missiles from the Patriot at different angles to intercept the Russian missile, demonstrating how quickly they have become adept at using the powerful system, one official said.
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Last weekend Lt. Gen. Mykola Oleschuk, commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, wrote on Telegram that the Patriot system was used to shoot down “the ‘unparalleled’” Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile. However this week Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s spokesman, only confirmed a Patriot shot down a Russian hypersonic. He did not mention any more specifics, and noted it was unclear if the missile system was one provided by the U.S., Germany or the Netherlands.
Russia has utilized its hypersonic missiles to fire deep into Ukrainian territory, targeting Kyiv and other locations. The Kinzhal has been one of the main weapons used in that campaign, and Ukraine has been trying to boost its air defenses to counter them.
The Patriot missile systems are one of several Western-supplied arms that have been put into use in recent months. Most recently the United Kingdom provided Kyiv with its Storm Shadow long-raise aerial cruise missiles, which Ukraine used to hit targets in Russian-controlled territory this past week.
Western artillery and missile systems have proved effective in Ukraine’s air and ground defense. Those include the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System or HIMARS, which have been a major thorn in Russia’s side. As a result, Russia has been trying to specifically destroy them. Ukraine has used several decoys to distract Russia and make it waste its own ordnance.
The intercept of the Russian hypersonic missile comes as the fighting shifts in Ukraine’s east. Fighting around the city of Bakhmut has seen heavy losses on the Russian side, both in the regular military and the Wagner Group. However its expected counteroffensive to retake parts of the Russia-controlled east has been put on hold, according to President Volodomyr Zelensky, who cited a need for more Western weapons.
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