The 3M22 Zircon is a scramjet powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile developed for the Russian Navy. It’s currently undergoing testing.
Russia To Test Zircon Hypersonic Missile A Dozen More Times In 2020-21 (24.04.2020):
Russia will conduct approximately a dozen more launches of the latest Zircon hypersonic missile as part of state tests, TASS reported citing its own sources in the military-industrial complex.
“Until the completion of state tests of the Zircon complex, it is planned to carry out about a dozen more launches of hypersonic missiles from two carriers,” the source said.
According to him, the launch tests will take place in 2020-2021.
“About 7-8 launches are planned from the [Project 22350] Admiral Gorshkov frigate, they will hit land and sea targets, and 2-3 launches will be carried out from the [Project 885 Yasen-class] Severodvinsk nuclear submarine, at least one of them from underwater position,” the source said.
NPO Mashinostroyeniya (part of the Tactical Missiles Corporation) which, according to media reports, developed the Zircon rocket, did not comment on the information provided by the source.
The development of the Zircon rocket has been underway since 2011, and flight tests have been conducted since 2015.
The missile will be used to destroy enemy surface ships equipped with anti-aircraft and missile defense systems that can effectively intercept modern supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles. The first tests of the Zircon rocket by firing at a target located on the shore took place in January 2020.
During these tests, the missile was launched from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov and hit a coastal target at a distance of 500 kilometers.
The technical details about the hypersonic missile have not yet been disclosed. Presumably, the Zircon is a two-stage rocket.
The first stage of the missile is equipped with a solid propellant rocket engine, and the second – ramjet. The ammunition range is up to 600 kilometers. The rocket is capable of speeds up to Mach 9.
The Zircon missile can be launched from standard launchers of the VLS (Vertical Launching System) 3C-14, that is, the same as those used for the Kalibr and Onyx cruise missiles. In the future, Zircon can be armed on all modern ships and submarines with the VLS.
As another TASS source in the military-industrial complex said earlier, it is planned to complete the state tests of Zircon in 2021, and to commission the missile into service in 2022.
Just days earlier, the National Interest wrote that the Zircon is quite a threat to the US Navy’s fleet, regardless if its nuclear or not.
“The Zircon hypersonic missile is alleged to be a variant of Russia’s P-880 Onyx. At Mach 2.9, the Onyx is fast, but nowhere near as fast as the Zircon, which is propelled to hypersonic speeds—in excess of Mach 5. The Zircon has a two-stage propellant system that uses a solid-fuel propellant to bring it up to speed, then is powered by a scramjet combustion engine.
Launching submarine-based hypersonic missiles is a potent ability. Submarines can stay underwater for weeks or months, undetected and protected. Though the Zircon is thought to be armed with conventional explosives, it hardly matters.
Traveling in the Mach 5+ range generates so much kinetic energy that even a concrete-filled warhead would create a massive explosion if it hit the ground—or a massive hole in an aircraft carrier.“
In conclusion, the author of the article said that the combination of the new Yasen-class nuclear submarine and the Zircon hypersonic missile was an incredibly dangerous combination.
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