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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

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.

photo of a missile attached to a fighter jet

An earlier design of Russia's guided GROM missile

Nikolai Novichkov/TASS via ZUMA
Cameron Manley

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.

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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.

photo of debris after a missile attack including a billboard with an advertisement of a woman in a green dress

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.

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Are We Sliding Into The "War To End All Wars" — For Real This Time?

Considering that our "final war" may be arriving isn't so far-fetched when states like Iran, Russia and North Korea are courting confrontation and taking "crazy" risks, a little like the European powers of 1914. But let's proceed with caution.

photo of a boy walking through rubble

A Palestinian boy walks amid the rubble of destroyed buildings after Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis

Yasser Qudih/Xinhua via ZUMA
Héctor Abad Faciolince


BOGOTÁ — Imagining the arrival of the "final war" could be a hopeful prediction, if we were referring to how humanity may finally be ready to close its long history of bloody conflicts. It would mean that peace has at last come to stay, and we could all live carefree lives in a way the world has never known.

Unfortunately I mean it very differently, in the apocalyptic sense, that the next big war could be the last one, with the losers being the whole human race. Yes, in that scenario, the world would become uninhabitable, and we would die off: all of us, down to the last child in the deepest forests of the Amazon.

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I must admit I have a dreadful feeling that, unbeknownst to ourselves, we are sliding toward World War III. I hope I am mistaken, and this turns out to be mere pessimism, the result of the fears that come with age. If I believed in God, I'd ask Him to make time and reality prove me wrong.

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