Breathtaking punch: Kh- or Kalibr missile ‘caught’ by SA-24 Grinch

KYIV ($1=36.75 Ukrainian Hryvnias) — On December 29, Moscow gave the order for a new missile attack against Ukrainian infrastructure. Not only critical energy facilities of Ukraine were affected, but also residential buildings of the civilian population. This is what the Ukrainian side claims.

Russian Kh-101 stealth attack cruise missile use 35 US-made chips
Photo: Missile Threat

BulgarianMilitary.com reported on this attack. According to Ukrainian authorities, the Russian air force and navy fired a total of 69 cruise missiles. Ukraine claims 54 of them were shot down. Some Ukrainian sources claim that a portion of the downed Russian cruise missiles was shot down by MANPADS. Others, most likely around Kyiv, were shot down by Allied-supplied air defense systems, such as NASAMS or IRIS-T.

As a result of the attack on December 29, and according to the claims of some Western media, including the BBC, 40% of Kyiv was blacked out. Other sources say that Lviv was 90% dark the same day.

Breathtaking skills

A video circulated that day purportedly captured the breathtaking skills of a Ukrainian soldier. The video shows a low-flying cruise missile flying over the “video operator’s” head. At the same time, a Ukrainian soldier armed with the Soviet Igla-S MANPADS, better known in the West as the SA-24 Grinch, fired two missiles. The first missile misses the enemy cruise missile, passing by a very short distance from it. The second, however, manages to intercept the Russian cruise missile, followed by an explosion in the air in the distance.

Breathtaking punch: Kh- or Kalibr missile 'caught' by SA-24 Grinch
Video screenshot

You can’t tell from the video what the Russian cruise missile looks like. It can be Kh-101/Kh-55 series or Caliber. Some comments say that this is a video taken precisely during the attack on December 29th, 2022. But this is also difficult to prove, as it may have been circulated at the time but not filmed at the time.

The two cruise missiles

Whichever we choose of the two alleged missiles, they are being led as precision Russian weapons. Taking down cruise missiles from MANPADS is nothing new – at least from what we’ve seen in the 10 months of the war in Ukraine.

The 3M-54 Kalibr was officially accepted into service in Russia in the mid-1990s. One of the best-selling Russian cruise missiles is. Its operators are Russia, China, Iran, Algeria, Vietnam, and India. It has been developed in all possible launch options – from land, air, or naval launch platforms. Its maximum range is from 220 to 2,500 km depending on the launch platform. Russia is currently developing another modification of it with a maximum range of about 4,500 km.

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Kalibr cruise missile, photo credit: Vitaly Kuzmin

The Kh-101 is a variant of the old Soviet Cold War-era Kh-55 cruise missile developed sometime in the 1980s. This missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Such a missile fell in Kyiv a month ago, but not with a nuclear warhead, but with a dummy warhead, which has left some analysts quite puzzled as to why the Russians fired an “empty missile”. The missile has a range of 2,000 to 5,000 km. Kh-101 was accepted into service in 2012.

SA-24 Grinch is proving itself in Ukraine

The 9K338 Igla-S or known in the West by its NATO designation SA-24 Grinch is increasingly proving itself in Ukraine. It is not the first time that this MANPAD has shot down Soviet/Russian missiles.

There was evidence as early as October that the Ukrainian armed forces used the SA-24 Grinch to shoot down four cruise missiles. This happened on November 10-11 during the then-Russian missile attacks on the critical energy infrastructures of Ukraine. It is even said that the Ukrainian Southern Air Command of the Air Defense of Ukraine shot down these missiles.

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Video Screenshot

American MANPADS are also making a great debut in the war in Ukraine. There are probably quite a few unreported cases of the FIM-92 Stinger against Russian missiles, but at least one has received good publicity. It is about the Ukrainian soldier Dmytro Shumsky who shot down two Russian cruise missiles with his Stinger and was praised by the Ukrainian President Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky in his speech on October 11.

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