In a recent incident, the Ukrainian Air Force encountered a significant challenge as they faced a barrage of 7 x P-800 Onyx (Oniks) Russian missiles that targeted the port city of Odesa. Unfortunately, the air defense systems were unable to intercept any of these missiles, raising concerns about the country’s ability to defend against such high-speed threats. Ignat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force, shed light on the difficulty in shooting down these missiles, citing their extraordinary speed and low flight altitude as the primary factors hindering interception.

The P-800 Onyx missile is a formidable supersonic anti-ship missile, capable of reaching speeds exceeding 3,000 km/h. Such blistering speeds make it an extremely challenging target for air defense systems, leaving the Ukrainian Air Force without the capability to neutralize these missiles effectively.

A key characteristic of the Onyx missile is its ability to fly at an extremely low altitude of 10-15 meters above the water when approaching its target. This terrain-hugging flight profile makes it exceptionally hard to detect and engage, further adding to the complexity of countering the missile’s threat.

To put this challenge into context, even the BrahMos cruise missile, which was developed jointly by India and Russia, and based on the P-800 Onyx, has been touted as practically invincible after more than two decades since its induction. The BrahMos is reputed for its speed and maneuverability, with the recent upgrade pushing its speed from Mach 3 to Mach 4.5, solidifying its position as a potent force in breaching heavily guarded airspace.

The BrahMos boasts upgraded flight control and an “S” maneuver feature shortly before impact, rendering it highly evasive at close range. This, coupled with its extraordinary speed, makes it a formidable challenge for modern air defense systems.

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