Russia has deployed hypersonic air-launched missiles at a base in Belarus, the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.
Yesterday, in its daily update on the Ukraine war, the Ministry of Defense in London shared a satellite image showing two Russian warplanes along with a well-protected container believed to be storing missiles.
The image, taken Oct. 18 at Machulishchy Air Force Base outside Minsk, shows what MoD analysts have identified as MiG-31K jets, along with a canister that may contain Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.
“Russia used these weapons occasionally during the Ukraine war, but stocks are likely to be very limited,” the defense ministry said.
The MiG-31K was specially designed to carry the missiles, which have a range of more than 1,900 km.
Deploying the jets in Belarus would do little to increase the number of targets they could hit in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said. “It was probably the main reason for the deployment [send a] message to the West and to portray Belarus as increasingly complicit in the war,” she added.
Minsk allows Russian troops to be stationed on Belarusian territory and launch attacks on Ukraine from there, although it insists it does not want to intervene directly in the war.
Last month, Minsk and Moscow announced a joint force to defend Belarus’ borders, while Ukraine warned that Russian aviation units would be stationed at Belarusian bases on its border.
The Kinzhal missile is one of the most feared weapons in Russia’s arsenal. Capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 10 – or 10 times the speed of sound – it is much more difficult to intercept than traditional ballistic missiles. It can carry an explosive payload of 500 kg or a tactical nuclear warhead.
However, some Western analysts have cast doubt on the weapon’s capabilities, arguing that the Kinzhal is based on the Iskander missile developed in the 1980s.
dr Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Kinzhal posed no greater threat than the Iskander ballistic missile on which it is based. “It changes very little for Ukraine,” he said.
dr Kaushal added: “Firing the missile from the air increases its range, but beyond that the threat is no greater than a standard Iskander ballistic missile. That [is] Not to say it’s not a challenge – the Iskander’s quasi-ballistic trajectory makes it a real challenge for air defense and it has proven effective when targeting key infrastructure.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 2022)
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/russia-deploys-hypersonic-missiles-in-belarus-to-send-message-to-the-west-42112206.html Russia Deploys Hypersonic Missiles In Belarus To Send “Message To The West”.