Russia Unleashes Powerful New "Hybrid" Missile In Latest Air Attacks On Ukraine
As Moscow launches the heaviest bombardment of Ukraine in months, evidence suggests that it may have started using a new hybrid missile that would be able to evade some high-tech Western air defense systems.
Russia carried out its largest missile attack in weeks on Ukraine on Thursday, targeting energy facilities in what officials say is part of the first new air campaign against the Ukrainian power grid since last winter. Power cuts were reported in five Ukrainian regions, along with multiple civilian deaths.
But beyond the significance of the casualties and targets, experts are also pointing to the weapons employed. An attack in Kupyansk, in Ukraine's Kharkhiv region on Tuesday suggests that Russia has begun using a new missile system that exhibits formidable destructive potential and the ability to bypass Western air defense systems.
The Sept. 19 attack killed eight people. Oleg Sinegubov, the head of the local administration, provided a sobering account of the incident: “Two of the dead were volunteers who helped with evacuation efforts,” he said. “The occupiers cynically struck with the new Grom-E1 missile.”
The regional prosecutor's office later confirmed the missile type as the "Grom-1," which is essentially a modification of the X-38, a high-precision air-to-surface missile. This missile variant was officially integrated into the Russian Armed Forces’ arsenal in 2013, though it wasn't until 2019 that testing for the "Grom-1" was officially concluded.
Comparison with U.S. JDAM guidance module
The "Grom-1" missile boasts a range of 120 kilometers (75 miles). What sets it apart is its unique design: the bomb-rocket hybrid features deployable wings, which enhance both its range and accuracy. In contrast, its predecessor, the "X-38," only has a range of 40 km (25 miles). The Grom-1 also has the ability to circumvent advanced Western air defense systems located near the front lines, making it a useful asset for Russian forces.
This hybrid missile is equipped with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead that varies in weight up to 480 kilograms (1,058 pounds). Russian state media has also claimed the existence of a thermobaric version of this missile, but this has not been independently verified.
Russian agencies have also drawn comparisons between the "Grom" and the U.S. military's JDAM, a guidance module used to upgrade unguided bombs. However, the Russian hybrid missile has yet to demonstrate that it has reached the same level of effectiveness and precision as the American guidance kit.
After a Russian missile hit near the central market in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk Region, eastern Ukraine.
Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform via ZUMA
Pinpointing with precision
Prior to this incident, the "Grom" missile had made only one appearance, when it was reported in March 2023 on the pro-Russian telegram channel "Military Informant." The official Russian government newspaper "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" later published a report heralding the use of the Grom missile, which it described as the "latest high-precision munition," during the war in Ukraine.
Other reports have suggested that a high-precision hybrid missile used by the Russian Air Force had fallen somewhere within Russian-controlled Donetsk. However, photographic evidence of the rocket debris has never definitively pinpointed the exact crash site.
- Air Or Ground War? Why Russian Missile Attacks Make A New Assault On Kyiv More Likely ›
- Another Russian Missile Scientist Arrested For Treason, Warnings Of Sector's "Collapse" ›
- What To Know About Putin's Hypersonic Missiles ›