After a Russian journalist claimed that the British Isles would be swallowed up by the Atlantic Ocean if Moscow attacked, Russia has posed its hypersonic missile to around 1,100 miles from London.
The missile, which has been codenamed Killjoy by Nato forces, is at the Machulishchi Airfield, as per British intelligence. The Machulishchi Airfield is about eight miles south of Minsk, the Belarussian capital.
Moreover, satellite images reveal two MiG-31K Foxhound jets near a missile canister that is about seven metres in length. The Ministry of Defense believes the canister houses an As-24 Killjoy air-launched ballistic missile. This is the first time Moscow has placed one of its limited Killjoy munitions in Belarus.
The Killjoy Missile
Also called Dagger by the Russians, the Killjoy missile is capable of travelling up to 12 times the speed of sound. It can be launched from the air via a jet. Experts say the missile is nearly impossible to detect and neutralize from a defensive position. It can reach a speed of as high as Mach 10. The missile has been designed to take out "high-value targets" such as missile defense installations and carrier groups.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have touted the missiles' capabilities in 2018. "The missile flying at a hypersonic speed, 10 times faster than the speed of sound, can also manoeuvre at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, delivering nuclear and conventional warheads in a range of over 1,243 miles."
In the month of March, as per the Russian Defense Ministry, the first combat use of the missile was to destroy an underground weapon storage facility. But the missile's deployment has been limited throughout the conflict in Ukraine.
In an intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defense said Russia has fielded Killjoy since 2018, but it has not previously been deployed in Belarus. "Russia has occasionally launched these weapons during the Ukraine war, but stocks are likely very limited." The UK defense had previously assessed that the missile's use was unlikely to materially affect the outcome of Russia's campaign.
Is Britain Prepared?
A retired Air Marshall, Edward Stinger, believes Britain is exposed to the threat of Russian missiles and has much to learn from the Ukraine war. He expressed concerns about the U.K's air defense being limited without a long range air defense system. Stinger outlined that the only way London can be protected against strikes by Russian hypersonic or ballistic missiles is by placing a Type-45 destroyer equipped with Sea Viper missiles in the River Thames.
He also urged the U.K to review its nuclear and deterrence doctrines in light of the war in Ukraine. "We should consider how our armed forces are configured to deal with and deter the use of nuclear weapons; not just the deterrence of a strategic exchange, but also the use of tactical nuclear weapons that our adversaries see as legitimate rung on the escalation ladder."