Russia's new air launched Kinzhal hypersonic missile is a modified version of the 9M723 missile equipping the mobile Iskander-M surface to surface short range tactical ballistic missile system.
The Kinzhal(Dagger) was revealed by Russian President Vladimir Putin along with five other strategic weapons that supposedly gave Russia an strategic edge over United States.
Dubbed the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, the air-to-ground missile is initially carried by a MiG-31BM interceptor under its belly hard point.
The massive twin engine MiG-31 remains the fastest operational fighter capable of clocking a top speed close to Mach 3. Cruise speed is 2.35 Mach with a maximum combat range of 1450 km.
The carrier aircraft will serve as the first stage for the Kinzhal, accelerating the missile to a pre-determined altitude and speed that will enable an strategic standoff strike range of 2000 km (1250 miles).
The air launching significantly increase range of the Kinzhal, as the ground launched Iskander-M has only a range of up to 500 km(310 miles) range.
Combined with the mobility imparted by the carrier aircraft and the claimed Mach 10 speed, the Kinzhal can strike ground and maritime targets in minutes with utmost impunity.
None of the present western air defense systems are capable of engaging hypersonic weapons, coupled with a destructive payload of 500-700 kg, the Kinzhal can effectively counter navy ships including aircraft carriers.
Visible modification to the ground launched 9M723 missile include a exhaust fairing cap which is jettisoned after releasing from the aircraft, sharper nose cone and new guide fins.
Like the Iskander, the Kinzhal is powered by the same single stage solid propellant rocket motor and weighs around 4 tonnes and is ~7.3 m long.
The seeker of the missile is capable of striking targets in day and night.
Putin said the Kinzhal has been experimentally deployed to airfields in the Southern Military District, one of the four operational strategic commands of the Russian armed forces from December 2017.