Special Report

The World's Fastest Supersonic Weapons

Russia announced its first use of a new hypersonic missile in March after it destroyed an underground arms depot in the western Ukrainian village of Deliatyn. 

Moscow claims the Kinzhal (Kh-47M2) can travel faster than five times the speed of sound, a velocity of more than 6,000 kilometers (7,674 miles) per hour, or 1,668 meters per second. It can strike targets up to 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) away.

But the weapon, believed by experts to be a modified version of Russia’s Iskander missile, is designed to launch from a fighter jet, which means it could conceivably travel much faster, possibly up to Mach 10, or about 3,430 meters (2.13 miles) per second, according to the BBC, citing the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has bragged that his country leads the world in the development of super-fast hypersonic missiles, which are hard to track because they can change directions in mid-flight.

But how does the Kinzhal compare to comparable ballistic missiles? To determine the world’s fastest supersonic weapons, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Federation of American Scientists, Military-Today, and the U.S. Department of Defense. (Missiles whose speeds are not publically available were not included.).

It turns out that the Kinzhal ranks in the middle of the 25 fastest weapons worldwide. A dozen missiles travel faster, led by China’s DF-41 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, France’s M51 submarine-launched missile, and the American Trident D5, also submarine-launched. Out of these 12 missiles, only the Trident is both smaller and faster than the Kinzhal, at 2.1 meters in length (6.9 feet) versus 8 meters (26.25 feet). The Trident also has a much longer range, at 12,000 kilometers, or 7,457 miles. (Here’s how far the most powerful missiles can travel.)

Click here to see the world’s fastest supersonic weapons.

Eight countries have these 25 fastest weapons in their stockpiles, led by Russia with 10; China with six; and Iran with five. South Korea’s Haeseong II supersonic ship-launched cruise missile is a relative slowpoke, traveling at just 350 meters per second (783 miles per hour), which is equivalent to the muzzle velocity of a 9mm bullet fired from a Glock semi-automatic handgun. (These are the 50 most popular guns in the world.) 

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