The new Russian Zircon hypersonic missile is undergoing additional testing. On Sunday, another successful launch of the missile was carried out, this time from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate of the Northern Fleet, the Russian Defence Ministry said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated while attending the national naval day parade on Sunday that other vessels of the Russian Navy will soon receive the hypersonic weapon. Russia remains the only country to have successfully developed and tested a hypersonic weapon.
“Unique advantages and an increase in the combat capabilities of the fleet will be achieved through the widespread introduction of advanced technologies that have no analogues in the world, including hypersonic strike systems and unmanned underwater vehicles, to ensure the most effective means of defence,” Putin said.
In March, the commander of the Northern Fleet, Alexander Moiseev, said that the Northern Fleet submarines were planning to begin testing hypersonic weapons in the near future. In November last year, the military reported that one of the most modern ships of the Russian Navy, the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, was preparing to test a new missile.
On 2 December 2019, the President of the Russian Federation said that the strengthening of the capabilities of the Russian Navy in the coming years largely depends on the planned commissioning of frigates and submarines into the combat fleet, as well as the modification of existing vessels so that they can carry and launch the “Zircons”.
Modern Russian surface ships are equipped with a vertical launcher UKSK 3S14. As has been reported, the vertical launcher is capable of launching several types of Kalibr cruise missiles, as well as other missiles, in particular, the Zircon hypersonic missile. LINK
The Zircon will be able to reach speeds of up to Mach 9, nine times faster than the speed of sound. It will have an operational range of 1,000km, and is capable of hitting both water and land-based targets. The Defence Ministry said the Zircon is going to be placed on nuclear submarines and surface ships, but there are also plans to develop a ground-based version of the weapon.
Deputy Defence Minister Aleksey Krivoruchko has said that the missile is expected to enter service sometime in 2021 or 2022.
Russia apparently became the first nation to develop and deploy hypersonic weapons when the Avangard glide vehicle was introduced in December 2019.
Besides the Avangard and Zircon, the country’s ambitious hypersonic program also includes the air-launched Kinzhal (dagger) cruise missile. It too is undergoing tests at the moment, but it has already been shown to the public during Victory Day parades on Red Square. LINK
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