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ISW: Russia deploying new Kh-69 cruise missile in escalating attacks on Ukraine

by Abbey Fenbert April 13, 2024 7:32 AM 2 min read
A Russian Kh-69 air-launched cruise missile and RVV-BD and RVV-MD2 air-to-air hypersonic long-range guided missiles are pictured during the 2023 Dubai Airshow at Dubai World Central Al-Maktoum International Airport in Dubai on November 13, 2023. (Giuseppe Cacace / AFP via Getty Images)
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The Russian military is producing and deploying a new subsonic cruise missile, dubbed the Kh-69, in its renewed assault against Ukraine's energy infrastructure and vulnerable air defenses, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its April 12 report.

Russia has escalated attacks against Ukraine's energy infrastructure in recent weeks, exploiting a shortage in Kyiv's air defense systems brought on by delays in Western military aid.

A Russian missile attack overnight on April 11 destroyed the Trypillia Thermal Power Plant in Kyiv Oblast. The plant was hit by the new Kh-69 missiles, according to the Ukrainian military.

"ISW has not previously observed the Russian use of Kh-69 missiles in Ukraine," analysts said.

"Russian forces have reportedly launched Kh-69 missiles from 400 kilometers away from their targets, exceeding a previous estimated range of 300 kilometers and the 200-kilometer range of the most recent Kh-59MK2 variant."

Air Force spokesperson Illia Yevlash confirmed on April 12 that Russia had launched the new missiles during its massive aerial attack on April 11.

"This is an improved system of the Kh-59 version," Yevlash said.

"We are currently establishing what kind of missile it was, what type it was. These are fresh missiles with parts manufactured in 2023. That is, we can see that Russia is constantly trying to produce new missiles."

Yevlash said Russia was manufacturing the Kh-69 domestically, but continued production relies on the ability to source critical components from abroad. ISW analysts said Russia is not likely able to produce the new missile systems at a greater speed than its other missiles.

In addition to its expanded range, the Kh-69 can also reportedly be launched from Su-34 and Su-35 tactical aircraft, which are more common than strategic bombers. According to Yevlash, Patriot air defense systems would likely be effective at intercepting Kh-69s.

The ISW said that Western air defense provisions are "crucial" for Ukraine's defense against Russia's escalating missile and drone attacks.

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