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| Aisling Ní Chúláin | Aerospace STEM Posts
Russia claimed the first battle use of hypersonic weapons in the war in Ukraine. - Copyright AFP & Canva

What are hypersonic weapons and is Russia's use of them in Ukraine the start of a new arms race?

In 2019, a new type of hypersonic weapon called the DF-17 was unveiled during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Now, just under three years later, the Russian Ministry of Defence has claimed the first combat use of one of these missiles in its ongoing war in Ukraine, specifically an air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic weapon.

In a way, the label "hypersonic" could be considered misleading for these new kinds of arms systems because it is not necessarily the hypersonic speed at which they travel that constitutes a significant development.