Delivery of serial production of Tsirkon hypersonic missile to Russian armed forces to start in 2022

According to information published by the Russian press agency TASS, delivery of serial production of Tsirkon hypersonic missiles to Russian armed forces will begin in 2022, said the Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Test-fire of Tsirkon hypersonic missile from Russian Project 22350 frigate Gorshkov. (Picture source Russian MoD video footage)

During 2020, the Russian Navy has conducted several test-fire of Tsirkon hypersonic missiles from submarines and warships. In November 2020, the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov from the Russian Navy has successfully test-fired a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile from the White Sea against a target in the Barents Sea.

THe Tsirkon hypersonic missile can be fired by warships and submarines of projects 885 and 885M. Bastion coastal launchers can also carry new hypersonic missiles.

The Tsirkon hypersonic missile, also named 3M-22 was designed by NPO-machinostroeniya in Reutov in the Moscow region. It is a part of 3K-22 (Tsirkon code) complex which NATO reports as SS-N-33.

The missile can fly at a maximum speed of Mach 9 and an altitude of 30-40 km where the range and speed increase as air resistance is smaller. According to Russian military sources, the missile has a payload from 300 to 400 kg and a length of 8-10 meters. It is capable of hitting both ground and naval targets up to a distance of 1,000 km. The missile will have a conventional warhead but speculation abounds that it could carry a nuclear warhead in the future

The Tsirkon is a hypersonic cruise missile with two stages. The first stage uses a solid-fuel rocket to lift and accelerate the missile, and the second phase uses a scramjet motor to move the missile at hypersonic speeds over a range likely limited by the lifetime of the scramjet engine.

The Tsirkon is designed to use the 3S-14 Russia Universal Vertical Launching System, the same seaborne launcher as the Onyx and Kalibr missiles, in order to make it easy and affordable to deploy on ships and submarines. According to military sources, the Tsirkon missile will have a light version that will be air-deployed, likely from a Tupolev Tu-160/M/M2 jet.

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