Putin provides details on Russia’s hypersonic missiles
The first naval vessel fitted with Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles is set to begin its routine combat duty early in January, Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed. The president made the remarks on Wednesday during a meeting with the country’s top defense officials.
“In early January next year, the Admiral Gorshkov frigate will enter combat service with the latest, I repeat once again, not having any analogues in the world, sea-launched Zircon hypersonic missile systems,” Putin stated.
At the meeting Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu also announced that silo-based Sarmat ICBMs are already being deployed into Russia’s strategic missile forces.
The new hypersonic missiles, officially known as the 3M22 Zircon, have been actively tested over the past few years, after first being announced by Putin back in 2019. The Admiral Gorshkov, a modern missile frigate with Russia’s Northern Fleet, has already performed multiple test launches of the new missiles.
Still, little is known about the weapon, which is heavily shrouded in secrecy. The projectiles are reportedly able to reach speeds of at least 9 Mach – just over 11,000kph – while retaining the ability to maneuver, making them effectively impossible to intercept. The projectiles can cover a distance of at least 1,500km (932 miles), Igor Krokhmal, commander of the Admiral Gorshkov, revealed early this year.
The new missiles reportedly fit into the standard launch tubes of Russia’s naval vessels, which are equipped with older missiles such as the cruise Kalibr or anti-ship Onix missiles. This compatibility potentially allows any Russian cruise missile-carrying vessel to be fitted with the Zircon. Apart from surface ships, the new missiles are expected to be fitted on certain cruise missile-capable submarines, after the first submarine test-launch of the Zircon performed by the nuclear-powered Severodvinsk late in 2021.