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MiGs with Kinzhal missiles unable to hit targets in Black Sea: Why Putin needs patrols?

MiGs with Kinzhal missiles unable to hit targets in Black Sea: Why Putin needs patrols? Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)

Russian MiG-31K aircraft with Kinzhal missiles will not be able to hit targets in the Black Sea. The statements by the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin about patrolling are merely intimidation, as aviation expert and former test engineer at the Antonov Design Bureau, Kostiantyn Kryvolap, told RBC-Ukraine.

The expert explains that to launch the Kinzhal missile, it needs to be accelerated and launched from the carrier, namely the MiG-31K. The Kinzhal gains speed, reaches the stratosphere, and then targets the surface, or the intended target.

"The minimum distance from the point where the decision to launch the Kinzhal from the MiG was made to the target it can hit is several hundred kilometers. According to some estimates, it's around 700 kilometers. So even if a MiG-31K with Kinzhal missiles were patrolling in the Black Sea, it wouldn't be able to hit any targets in this sea due to the very limited operational zone," said the expert.

In his opinion, Putin's intimidation was likely aimed at influencing Ukraine's exports through the Black Sea, in order to intimidate crews that break the Russian blockade.

"Most likely, this statement by Putin is intended for companies that insure ships traveling to Ukrainian ports, to make them either increase their rates or refuse to insure ships. It may also be an attempt to intimidate the captains of these vessels and make them think twice about sailing in the Black Sea," he added.

Putin's threats

After a series of attacks by Ukrainian military forces in the Black Sea, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin announced that Russian MiG-31K interceptors would patrol the skies over the Black Sea.

MiG-31K serves as a carrier for the air-launched ballistic missile Kinzhal, which is challenging to intercept due to its flight trajectory.

Until the spring of 2023, Ukrainian military forces had not successfully intercepted the Kinzhal. However, in May, Ukrainian forces for the first time destroyed a Russian Kinzhal using the Patriot air defense complex provided by Ukraine's partners.