What Will Happen To a US Navy Aircraft Carrier When Hit by a Hypersonic “Kinzhal” Missile: Expert Modeling

The world’s first hypersonic aviation missile system is the Russian Kinzhal. This is a system based on the Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” missile and the base carrier (at the moment) – the MiG-31, which received the letter “K”.

According to representatives of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the “Kinzhal” hypersonic missile system is capable of hitting enemy targets not only on land, but also at sea. In particular, we are talking about such large ships as aircraft carriers. In this regard, experts model a situation in which aircraft carriers of NATO countries in the event of anti-Russian military aggression could be attacked from the air using the hypersonic missiles of the “Kinzhal” complex.

One of the options under consideration is a hypothetical strike on one of the largest aircraft carriers of our time, the US Navy’s USS George H. W. Bush. This is an American aircraft carrier with a displacement of 97,000 tons and a maximum length of 333 meters. Its crew is 3,200 people, plus almost the 2,500 military personnel of the aviation wing.

So what happens to an aircraft carrier of this type (the Nimitz type) if it is attacked by a single “Kinzhal” missile?

The simulation itself is reduced to choosing a hypersonic missile complex’s point of contact with an aircraft carrier, taking into account the mass of its warhead. It is known from open sources that the mass of the Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” warhead is 500kg. The maximum flight speed of the missile along the trajectory is also taken into account. It is about Mach 12.

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The statistics of the Russian hypersonic missile system are such that, even being part of an aircraft carrier strike group with the cover of an air defense system, the American aircraft carrier has no chance of intercepting the “Kinzhal”. The characteristics of American ship-based defence systems against aircraft do not allow to counteract hypersonic missile weapons. In other words, with a hypothetical strike, the target will be hit anyway. How fatal is it for an aircraft carrier?

Experts believe that striking not at the command room, but at the deck of an aircraft carrier may be the most effective.

Even if the carrier can stay afloat for the first moments after the strike, the potential of its aircraft wing will be reduced to zero by the damage caused to the deck. In addition, such a strike can lead to the defeat of at least one of the two naval Westinghouse A4W reactors. The total capacity of these reactors is 1,100 MW. A missile with a half-ton warhead moving at high speed can not only destroy the coolant circulation circuits, but also lead to the explosion of the nuclear reactors themselves during their active operation when an aircraft carrier performs a combat operation. This fact suggests that the impact of a single hypersonic “Kinzhal” missle complex may be enough to completely destroy not only the lead aircraft carrier of a strike group, but also the entire carrier strike group itself.


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