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MAY 2021

Zircon Hypersonic Missile Challenges US Naval Dominance

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This video analysis was originally released by SouthFront in June 2019

While the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile has not attracted the same level of media attention as the strategic Avangard re-entry vehicle or even the air-launched Kinzhal aeroballistic missile, it nevertheless represents an important advance in military technology and represents the state-of-the-art of Russian technologies. It promises to maintain and even expand Russia’s conventional deterrence through its high guarantee of effective retaliatory capability even against the most advanced anti-air and anti-missile defenses.

The secrecy surrounding the 3M22 Zircon, to the point of there existing no official images of the weapon, is remarkable and reminds one of the careful effort to conceal the true nature of the P-700 Granit heavy anti-ship missile, specifically its air-breathing ramjet propulsion.  It is also indicative of the importance attached to this weapon by the Russian government. Zircon has already been assigned a NATO reporting designation of SS-N-33, indicating that the alliance is treating the reports of its development and testing fairly seriously.  As well it should, given that the weapon system is being developed by the world-famous NPO Mashinostroyeniya know for, among other things, the aforementioned Granit and the Oniks/Yakhont cruise missile boasting ramjet propulsion, top speeds several times the speed of sound,  and the capability of striking land and naval targets. While the Granit was never used in combat, Oniks has already proved itself in Syria, where it was used to destroy extremist high-value targets with high precision and played an important role in deterring NATO strikes against Syria by threatening its naval assets in the Mediterranean.

While the Oniks is still a potent weapon that poses an extremely difficult challenge for any point-defense system due to its small size and high speed, the nature of the offense-defense technological race means that its successor in the form of Zircon is already under development and will likely enter service within the next few years, though according to some officials it already forms part of Russia’s arsenal. It is entirely possible that while the weapon is still undergoing development and testing, some missiles are already being carried by naval vessels on an experimental basis, in the same way the air-launched Kinzhal aeroballistic missile was deployed while still undergoing evaluation.

The reports that the Zircon is to be launched from the same 3S14 vertical launchers that are used for the Oniks indicate the two missiles are in the same weight and size class, with comparable range and payload characteristics. The one advantage the Zircon will have over the Oniks is the speed, which various sources estimate at between Mach 6 and Mach 9, a figure that may well depend on the missile’s flight altitude. If a low-altitude trajectory is adopted, on the one hand the dense layers of the atmosphere would reduce the speed considerably while on the other reducing reaction time by allowing the missile to clear the radar horizon relatively close to its target. A high-altitude cruise at 30-40km would enable it to accelerate to maximum velocity likely approaching that of a short-range ballistic missile and attack its target in a steep dive. While the high-altitude approach would provide the adversary with greater opportunity to detect the missile whose heat alone would make it difficult to conceal, it still would be a difficult weapon to intercept, particularly since most weapons sent against it would be considerably slower. It is not clear whether the Zircon is capable of high-g evasive maneuvers. If it is, that would increase its resistance to interception even more.

The differences between high and low flight trajectories likely account for the different cited maximum ranges for the weapon. While some sources list its range as only 400km, President Putin’s recent address included the claim the weapon has effective range in excess of 1,000km. Moreover, should an air-launched variant of the Zircon be developed, which is rather likely considering the existence of sea-, land-, and air-launched versions of the Oniks, its maximum range should be well in excess of 1,000km, particularly if the launching aircraft is flying at high altitude and at supersonic speed.

Once operational, the naval variant of the Zircon will be deployed on all ships currently capable of carrying the Kalibr and Oniks missile systems, from 800 ton missile corvettes to frigates and even ships currently armed with the large Soviet-era Granit anti-ship missiles, namely the nuclear-powered missile cruisers and cruise missile submarines.  It appears that, as in the case of Oniks, the primary mission is anti-ship, with a combination of inertial, satellite, and active radar guidance, with a secondary land-attack role. On account of its rather shorter range and smaller payload, it is unlikely to displace Kalibr as the naval land-attack weapon of choice. While there are reports that the Zircon could be used to target US command and control facilities on the Atlantic coast, the weapon’s range means the launching submarine would have to cruise uncomfortably close to US coasts and therefore risk detection and destruction in order to bring its missiles to bear. It is doubtful the Zircon would be the sole or even the main weapon used for conventional strikes against land targets in such a scenario, and there are no indications it is intended to completely or even partially replace the Kalibr. However, the Zircon would have one major advantage over the Kalibr in the land-attack role, namely its potential ability to destroy underground targets due to its extremely high speed, if equipped with an appropriate “bunker buster” warhead and launched on a plunging trajectory against its target. Kalibr does not have the ability to defeat such heavily protected targets, and while Kinzhal potentially does, it is an air-launched weapon only. Thus the Zircon promises to not only preserve the competitiveness and viability of Russia’s anti-ship weapon systems but also provide an important and so far lacking niche capability.

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It promises to maintain and even expand Russia’s conventional deterrence through its high guarantee of effective retaliatory capability even against the most advanced anti-air and anti-missile defenses

Very accurate definition except for one detail.
I don’t know why is author so convinced that Zircon will have only “conventional” warheads?!
If anti ship missile like P-800 Oniks can have nuke warhead why would they not put it in Zircon?!
Nuke Zircons with 1000 Km range would be ideal for sinking US and UK air-carriers.

משה גודמן (Moshe 75)

Not scary at all. US and Israel have weapons far superior than what the Russkies know of.

Ilya Grushevskiy

We all believe you. We all here hate documentary and physical evidence, history etc. We much prefer hearsay!

משה גודמן (Moshe 75)

I remember being only 7 and camp guards telling me that Germany had very superior weapons and that they were going to win the war against the allies and the Soviets in 1945! They even told me they were going to win the race to the nuclear bomb. What a joke. Next thing that happened was America liberating Europe and defeating the Nazis. Now America is the global Superpower. Get over it.


Today Russians don’t “tell” you a thing… yet they will annihilate you, turn you in ashtray if need be.
So shut the fuck up this is not your Palestinian forum where you terrorize little children you sadistic pedophile!

Ilya Grushevskiy

Hitler had nerve gasses that could have wiped out whole cities.

But it was the allies that enforced blockades on civilians after WWI ended, the allies that bombed civilians first during the Battle of Britain, the allies that nuked civilians just for show.

Anglo-Zionists enslaved Europe, from which it is just waking up.. Maybe too late.

And there were no allied troops on the Western front between ’41-’44.. USSR beat the Germans, the rest chipped in.


” Hitler had nerve gasses that could have wiped out whole cities.”

Yes indeed, and Hitler never used them.
After WW2 many thousands of barrels of German nerve agents were dumped in a deep basin in the Baltic.


Wayne Nicholson

Cut the crap. You’re not dealing with ignorant Americans here. The Russians defeated the Nazi’s, the Americans invaded after the Nazi’s back was broken. The US military know it despite the propaganda …. they paid David M. Glantz to research exactly how they did it and teach them at the war college in Leavenworth.

WTF is the point of your story anyway …. it’s the USA that has bases all over the world, invading countries and is always bragging they are the best military in history not the Russians.

Lonesome Cowboy Burt

One word: Meth.


Soviets, not Russians. It’s a much broader demographic.

Wayne Nicholson

point taken

Arch Bungle

And in the same way, Israel and America lie to you about their superior weapons, they will be revealed as fake when the hour comes. Patriot cannot take down Irans scuds. Iron dome struggles with bottle rockets. Merkava “Gods Chariot” is wrecked by Hezbollah ninjas on foot. Yet you spout nonsense about secret technologies nobody knows about. Be aware that the Russians brought mankind into Space long before others did. It is more likely they know things nobody else is aware of.


Empires rise & fall US will be no different.

Lonesome Cowboy Burt

BS! You aren’t that old nor were you in any camps, ffs!

Pablo Rivera

Remember that they were 6 millions and each one had 4 children. They were also 20 million civilians but they weren’t chosenites.

Gary Sellars

“They even told me they were going to win the race to the nuclear bomb.”

Fucking LIAR of a shlomo…. Yeah sure buddy… “camp guards” were talking about nuclear bombs? ROFL!!!! Back in the 40s virtually no-one outside classified academia and military know about the potential of atomic fission for weapons, and this oven-dodger wants us to think that guards at a camp knew about the tech…..

Fuck but you Chosenites are stupid.


America did not liberate Europe you homo. The Soviets did it whether you like it or not.

Bobby Twoshoes

Are you fucking serious?
You: “US and Israel have weapons far superior”
Also You: “guards telling me that Germany had very superior weapons and that they were going to win the war”
You are the worst Hasbara hire ever…


ray guws and shiet…


Yeah your hanky panky not existing “space weapons” huh?
That explains why US is running 20 hyper sonic projects in vain attempt to catch up on Russia!

IsraHELL is just robbing US of their high tech know how and adding few of their gadgets calling it at the end “Israeli” high tech…
India buys your crap because that way gets US tech without US strings attached!

You even copy Soviet and Russian tech
(passive and active tank defense )through betrayal of Russian Jews arrived to IsraHELL…

rightiswrong rightiswrong

Trump says so, so it must be true.
Trump also believes in Santa, and NATOME.

Bigly bigly, as they say in Buck Rodgers, Trump thinks its a message from his space troops!


I suppose you have phasers & photon torpedoes as well.

Simon Ndiritu

This is serious oral gyrating!!!, The US and the mad rat you mention should first protect Saudis from houthi missiles and then come talk.


Let me guess. Your weapon number 6 million and they travel 6 million km/h.


Go back to Washing your shit diamonds in your soup. Liar.

Ilya Grushevskiy

To not trigger the Empire into nukes in case of use?


Is there a polite or harmless way to fight war?
If yes I am all ears.
Yes nuking air-carrier can start not only war but trigger “MAD”as well.But it is maybe not so straight forward logic if Russia nukes air-carrier that is attacking Russia and sends message like that to all other carrier groups to back off!

Since we all know that Russian Navy has defensive posture since they are only building smaller ships (corvettes, frigates) while structure of US Navy can be defined with only one word: INVASION!
So one must sink something to stop them from doing it.
And if that “triggers” them into “MAD” exchange than so be it.

Ilya Grushevskiy

The question is whether one can threaten a rabid animal, and whether the AnZis are infected.. If so, and given Russians conventional superiority regardless, I say better not poke the beast, especially since it’s in its terminal stage.

I think they want to invade, but can’t for financial and practical reasons (no where near enough military on the border), and they know that, and since they want to dominate, the nuke option will appeal to the crazier types, and they seem to float to the top in their system!


We all know that.
Your argument is spot on, common sense, well developed.
I will give you your own words back as counter argument:
“can we threaten a rabid animal” and also can we reason “with a rabid animal”?!?
If “rabid animal”decides to block Northern passage or Bosporus to Russian ships don’t you think that Russia doesn’t have right to sink them all?
You do know that they have LOWERED lot threshold fro tactical nukes and that literally generals commanding of US forces in Europe, Asia have LITERALLY RIGHT to nuke their enemy with tactical nukes if they find that necessary in the case of war ?
Did you know that?

Yeah they wanted to invade Iran the problem is they are too BANKRUPT to survive huge surge in oil and gas prices without triggering collapse of US and world economy and collapse of the dollar and DEPRESSION on the top.


Hah, no, I quote al-Anfal 56-63 usually, it shows just how backwards the Empire is – even Sharia Law clearly states what to do with them.

56 The ones with whom you made a treaty but then they break their pledge every time, and they do not fear Allah .
57 So if you, [O Muhammad], gain dominance over them in war, disperse by [means of] them those behind them that perhaps they will be reminded.
58 If you [have reason to] fear from a people betrayal, throw [their treaty] back to them, [putting you] on equal terms. Indeed, Allah does not like traitors.

Not agreement capable for sure.

I read Turkey is not allowed to block the straights for Russian navy by treaty, so yeah, it would be a fair response. Problem is the fair response is also an opportunity for the propaganda machines to spin a false flag (Pearl Harbour).

My opinion is that it’s best not to engage them at all, unless absolutely necessary, as Syria was, and let them continue overextending. I honestly don’t think there is much time left – US total gov debt is 120%GDP+, like Greece was before the markets ran on it, so it’s just a matter of when the first sheep jumps now.


OK Ilya
fair enough
Explain how to avoid “incident” if the NATO has blockade (with or without Turk approval it is not important) for all Russian ships through Bosporus ? !
How should Russia react on that declaration of war?
The international standards are very clear which acts can be recognized as “acts of war”.
Ans that is one of them!!
You NEVER walk away from bully on acts like that or negotiate because the next moment bully will do something 2 times worse till he brakes you!!!
One NEVER reason with desperate people but hits them first if one can see that there is no way around the problem!!
So there is no possible way around that problem that is an “act of war”

You try to walk away next moment NATO will take s**t all over you and order you to APOLOGIZE!!


Sanctions are an act of war, killing Soleimani was an act of war, the US often lashes out with acts of war.

I always found with bullies, not giving a shit was the strongest defence. Ignoring someone is a form of bullying in itself https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2644101/Being-ignored-WORSE-bullied-Ostracism-psychologically-damaging-claim-experts.html .. ok, daily mail, but I have personal experience of how unpleasant it is.

Just keep building roads, improving the condition of your populations while staying defended (so long as you are defended), and who cares what they do?

I personally think Putin and Russia are so close to neutrality in their military stance (it is defensive as you say), they should just declare permanent armed military neutrality, get a second amendment and conscript along the lines of Switzerland. And they can go into autarky pretty easily too!

How to deal with something like Syria? Hold a referendum that an attacked nation unifies its state with Russia for 25 years. After the 25, the Russian population can hold a referendum if they want to keep the deal. Something like that. It would have costs sure, but less than war imo. Would piss off the Empire something mad too! (although, yes, it is a little “Iranian prostitute marriage”! :p )


I think that Russia “dosn’t giving a shit” quite lot.
A military neutrality is in Russia’s nukes.
Nobody mess with Russia and challenges Russia openly.
And it will stay that way.

Nations are not stickers it doesn’t work that way.


US navy is built for power extension against targets that can be described as ”colonial” states. It is certainly not built for attacks against countries with real effective hypersonic antiship weapons. Like you said Russia posture regarding this is defensive, which is cheap, cost effective and purpose effective.

Even 400km Zircon is enough to make the Gulf of Finland, or a good chunk of the Black Sea Russian lakes i.e effectively off limits to NATO attack actions with naval power. Not to mention 1000km. There are probably again different range variants for different locations. 1000km might be suitable in Pacific coast.


You obviously know the subject well, have absolutely nothing to add.


I actually feel more at ease in the UK in the knowledge that even the ‘smart idiots’ of the British establishment will fear the consequences of a real war with Russia. :)


“Nuke Zircons with 1000 Km range would be ideal for sinking US and UK air-carriers”

This is not warmongering but pure technical assessment of weapons capability!
If we know that air-carrier group has her defenses built in the range of 600Km around the carriers than it is logical to see Zircons as perfect weapon since its range is much longer than protection range.
That’s way ship firing Zircon will not be in danger at all.
And air carrier defenses will be defeated because of sheer speed of the missile.


“The secrecy surrounding the 3M22 Zircon, to the point of there existing no official images of the weapon”

Presentation model of 3M22 Zircon presented as future hyper-sonic Brahmos 2(anti-ship model)
Behind is solid fuel booster with (2nd stage scram engine Zircon on the top of the booster)
So much about the “secret”

משה גודמן (Moshe 75)

Zicron is a wolf in sheeps clothing. It only has a range of 400km first off. Not long range enough to be dangerous to the US Military or Israeli Navy. Second off, it’s only Mach 8, meaning it can be intercepted by the AEGIS missile defense system on US Navy Destroyers!

Wayne Nicholson

“Zicron is a wolf in sheeps clothing.”

Are you sure you got that right? Shouldn’t it read a sheep in wolf’s clothing to make any sense?

“Second off, it’s only Mach 8, meaning it can be intercepted by the AEGIS missile defense system on US Navy Destroyers!”

When has a aegis system intercepted a cruise missile flying at mach 8? The USA doesn’t even have supersonic cruise missiles so how did they test Aegis against hypersonic missiles?

US air defence systems have trouble intercepting simple ballistic missiles let alone intercepting maneuverable supersonic cruise missiles in an EW dense environment.

The physics is simple … it’s harder to hit a bullet than for a bullet to avoid being hit so if a volley of missiles are fired the odds are that some will get through even if the air defence system could intercept missiles 100% of the time in tests where a single missile is fired …. which they can’t.

Try it yourself …. have someone fire a bullet at you and try to shoot it out of the air. Then get 20 people to shoot bullets at you at the same time and see if you can shoot them all out of the air.

It’s a numbers game. You can buy a hell of a lot of missiles for the price of a singe aircraft let alone an aircraft carrier. Missiles are always going to win.



The concept is so simple yet many just want to deny such a reality just because it doesn’t fit within their own deluded perspective on the matter.

Wayne Nicholson

It’s marketing. They’re in business to sell weapons.

I like Americans. I used to spend 3 months a year down there working in Las Vegas with guys from all over the USA developing educational programs for the building trades. I have lots of friends down there that I love dearly. They have been nothing but kind, friendly and generous to me.

I also worked with a lot of US businesses as a contractor. I trust very few of them. the horror stories of working with Americans in my business is endless and Donald Trump epitomizes them.

Americans are people of faith. They are the most religious nation on earth. They believe capitalism is the greatest economic system on earth. They believe they are the greatest country on earth with the greatest military of all time. They are true believers however faith is blind trust which is why they can be taken in so easily. I have no idea why they are like that.

The USA seemed to attract great minds, hard workers and con men from day one. Us taxpayers believe what the MIC, the politicians they own, the generals who are looking for a golden parachute from the MIC and the media big business control tell them.

Just the fact that they elected Donald Trump as president tells you just how gullible they are. It baffles me.


It’s that same blind faith that scares me so deeply that words can’t really encompass the raw fear I feel when thinking about it. Just the pure horror of what America can unleash upon the world due to its unyielding ‘exceptionalism’ is just unacceptable. We have seen time and time again just how soulless and with utter disregard Americans can be to other peoples of the world; it seems to be a trait the U.S. just can’t seem to get over, in fact it’s held is high-regard it seems. Just to name a few unlawful U.S. wars or conflicts in recent history; Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, the litany of South American countries, South Korea, Nuclear bombs against civilian targets in Japan, Allied bombing of Dresden and the countless deaths of civilians due to sanctions and kinetic bombings is way too much to name off since it would take more than half a page to list them and give cursory descriptions for each individual occurrences.

A detrimental delusional mindset coupled with a dogmatically ignorant populace is a recipe for utter destruction given the right circumstances and I sincerely think we are heading that direction. American arrogance alone is enough to make a sane person mad.

To tell you the truth Mr. Nicholson, I don’t see America acquiescing the world ‘leadership’ mantel to anyone without drawing blood first. We’ve seen how treacherous the Americans can be when their waning dominance is challenged. Iran is undoubtedly the next nation on the American/Israeli hit-list but this time the U.S. is facing an opponent more than capable of hitting back with purpose and proficiency.

One can only hope that the Iranians garner some more time to prepare for what seems to be (at least currently) the inevitable.

On your note about how blind Americans are about the U.S. all I have to say is that you’re completely correct in that assessment. As someone who’s been living and was born in the U.S. I can say with great confidence many Americans truly do believe the U.S. armed forces to be this invincible, infallible, force for ‘good’ military that cannot and will not lose against anyone period. To those of us who have more than cursory knowledge about military matters and the technology behind the weapons, we obviously have a much easier time in delineating what is possible and what is jingoistic fantasy. More over, I do also rather fervently believe that educating Americans on the matter is often times a futile course of action. Too many either don’t care since the war is fought 5,000miles that way or they’ve drunk the MIC kool-aid and will just regurgitate some Pentagon PR line we know is pure bullshit.

I just…I hope when it goes it down, humanity can reasonable recover from the fallout. That’s all one can hope for realistically no?

Wayne Nicholson

They scare the shit out of me too.

I’m not a communist. I believe in free enterprise but not capitalism which in my experience is a used as a weapon to keep small enterprises from prospering. Americans have such faith in capitalism they can’t see the difference.

I think we’re witnessing the death throws of capitalism here. What’s happening is just as Marx predicted but the capitalists that the USA represents are doing everything in their power to prevent it. Just the fact that the Fed has been printing money since 2008, interest rates are going negative and the US stock markets have been rising for 12 years without a correction smells of desperation.

The stock market is fuelled by stock buyback scams to the point where the USA’s biggest corporations don’t have the income or assets to cover their debts. If interest rates twitch upwards they will be in default and they have to rise some time. I get the feeling the next recession will be the big one.

I hope that this doesn’t all end in war as Marx predicted. We’ve been in a world war for some time now but it’s been an economic one. If were lucky the USA goes out with a wimper and not a bang


Have someone fire a bullet at you… Damn that made me laugh!!!



Rhodium 10

Sure?..Patriot is unable to intercept cruise missile and Drones…Iron Dome only is useful vs few rockets…when Palestine launch more than 10 in a single barrage…Iron Dome…turn in Butter Dome…with only 50% ratio of interception!

Xoli Xoli

Iron dome can only bomb helpless Palestine women,elderly ,cripple and blind people


Zicron range = 1000 Km
Zircon speed = Mach 9
AEGIS missile are high altitude missiles while hyper sonic anti-ship missile can fly very low!
No known US missile can intercept Zircon, they are all too slow for that!

“US does not have defenses against those weapons”
Those are the words of US highest commander Gen. Jhon Hyten

Dick Von Dast'Ard

What is the average hull age of those AEGIS cruisers now, around 30 yrs? (Nearly as old as the 1975 Nimitz and Nimitz-class carriers)

Israeli navy has about two rowing boats with a machine gun doesn’t it?


One rowing boat is on the repair .
The sophisticated guidance system is on the repair.comment image

Arch Bungle

US navy destroyers are deathtraps. An old system like sn 22 sunburn is enough to wipe out the US best destroyer. Now bring in Khinzal hypersonics for overkill.


There is zero evidence Aegis can intercept low flying hypersonic missiles like zircon with manoeuvring capability & even if they could what would the success hit rate be, 20%, 30% meaning the majority would get through.


I honestly think that anything above 0% is quite optimistic.
Aegis are built and optimized to hit ballistic missiles (with ballistic trajectory) .
Their targeting logarithms are not created for missile that permanently changes course and altitude.
They would not be able at all to target Zircons.
And I doubt that those rockets could ever fly that low even if they try everything.
It is simple lower than their lowest limits.


I would argue that they are optimized for profit.


So it seams. No other explanation for so much money spent for so little.


By the way in 2030: An Arab prince posted on Twitter: I have a former US navy aircraft carrier, only engaged in war once in Syria in 2020. Lifted from the seabed in 2025, it has been repaired, there are only a few traces of damage left. , a little small hole due to the hypersonic zircon missile hit, the others are fine. Who is interested?

Pave Way IV

There will be no such thing as an Arab prince by 2030, and I doubt the US is ever going to risk an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf again. I think we prefer skulking around with our carriers well offshore in the Arabian Sea – around 2000m deep. Nothing is coming back up after going to the bottom there. Except Houthi free-diving for loose bales of khat.


I challenge that assumption. If they should be more than nominal princes, is a different question.


The only world known hyper sonic missile interceptors (speed of intercept up to Mach-17) are Russian S-500.
Not yet in production.

No other hyper sonic missile interceptors exist on this planet.
Do not let them fool you!

cechas vodobenikov

US trash can’t intercept primitive Palestinian rockets nor Houthi drones; Russian defenses have intercepted every missile/drone sent by the USA/ISIS cretins in syria….israel’s iron dome is nearly as worthless as US trash

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