of units produced. The biggest attack took place
on March 9 this year, when the Russians fired
six missiles of this type at Ukraine. At least
two missiles were lost last year. One Kinzhal
apparently crashed due to a malfunction while
still on Russian territory, another was destroyed
when its carrier, a MiG-31, crashed last October
while taking off from Belbek airfield in occupied
The first kill
Now, for the first time, Ukrainian air defences
have also destroyed Kinzhal. It happened early
in the morning of May 4 over Kiev. The Economist
magazine talked about it with 30-year-old
Ukrainian Patriot operator Vyacheslav. He said
that according to the manual, it was possible to
destroy the Kinzhal, but he was only convinced
when the order was given to fire the missile and
the shoot-down was confirmed. Applause, joy
and much swearing followed. Vyacheslav also
noticed that the Kinzhal was flying about three
times slower than the Russian propaganda
communicated. “We have understood Patriot
works. The next time, when we saw not one but
six Kinzhals on our displays, it was just a matter
of routine,” he told The Economist.
Vyacheslav underwent a shortened training
that lasted three and a half months. He first
trained in Oklahoma, USA, and then in Poland.
A long list of achievements of the Ukrainian air defense battery.
However, according to the Ukrainians, even
this training was too long. After all, Western
systems are more automated and there is
nothing exceptionally complex about their
operation. “The IRIS-T is much less complicated
system than the Buk system I was operating
before. It’s like switching from a calculator
to a MacBook Pro. Western air defense
batteries basically do the work for you," The
Economist quoted Denis Smazny, training
coordinator for IRIS-T and NASAMS, as saying.
The debris of the Kinzhal, whose shooting down
on May 4 was mentioned by Vyacheslav, fell on
a playground. Photos of the debris appeared
on social networks. At first, Kiev denied the
shoot-down because it did not want to reveal
its capabilities to the enemy. However, the
Ukraine officials eventually confirmed it. The
wreckage of the Kinjal was put on display in
Kiev. According to some doubters, they do not
A Ukrainian operator prepares a Patriot battery for action.
Illustrative photo of a MiG-31 with a Kinzhal missile underneath.
Wreckage of the Kinzhal on display in Kiev.