Signal: Russia develops hypersonic missile jets to patrol Black Sea

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had sent military aircraft armed with hypersonic missiles to patrol the airspace over the hotly contested Black Sea after talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday (18 October).

“This is not a threat, but we will exercise visual control – control with weapons – of what is happening in the Mediterranean Sea,” Putin told reporters.

The move represents an escalation in Russia and Ukraine’s Battle of the Black Sea, as evidenced by tweets spotted by GlobalData’s social media analytics. It has also strained Moscow-Washington relations given the increased proximity of the Russian Air Force and the US Air Force transiting to and from Israel as the conflict in the Middle East intensifies.

Putin emphasized that the MiG-31 aircraft, equipped with Kinzhal missiles, “have a range of more than 1,000 km at a speed of Mach 9.” With 1,375 km separating Israel from the Black Sea, the possibility of US and Russian military aircraft occupying the same airspace has increased.

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From GlobalData

Already in the Gulf area is the USS Mesa Verdean amphibious transport dock, the Bataan, an amphibious assault ship, and the USS Carter Halla landing ship, YEAR mentionted.

These ships carry E-2 Hawkeye surveillance planes and F-18 fighter jets, both of which are intended to prevent other parts of the Middle East from becoming involved in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Russia’s strategic transition from navy to air force

Putin’s decision to opt for an air approach to the Black Sea is partly due to Russia’s recent naval troubles in the region.

Despite the fact that Ukraine has no naval fleet, having wrecked its flagship (the Hetman Sahaidachny) in March 2022 to avoid capture by Russia, Kiev has inflicted significant damage on the Russian Black Sea fleet in recent weeks.

On September 22, Ukraine landed a missile attack at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, part of the annexed Crimea.

Kiev’s strategy of asymmetric warfare, including the use of naval drones, has seen the Russian Black Sea Fleet withdraw from Sevastopol and relocate to the port of Novorossiysk – 381 kilometers away on the eastern Black Sea coast.

Russian air force strategy is also a result of the Montreux Convention.

The Convention signed in 1938 authorizes the Turkey to restrict the passage of warships in the Black Sea through the Bosporus Straits. All foreign warships must notify Turkey before transit – 15 days’ notice for non-Black Sea powers or eight days for Black Sea countries.

Turkish President Erdogan invoked this authority on February 28, 2022 – four days after Russia attacked Ukraine.

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