Russia to hold about 10 more test launches of Tsirkon hypersonic missile

Russia will perform about 10 more launches of the advanced Tsirkon hypersonic missile during its state trials. They will take place in 2020-2021.


Russia will perform about 10 more launches of the advanced Tsirkon hypersonic missile during its state trials. They will take place in 2020-2021.


Russia to hold about 10 more test launches of Tsirkon hypersonic missile 925 001Tsirkon hypersonic missile (Picture source: Russian Defense Ministry/TASS, archive)


Approximately seven or eight launches against ground and seaborne targets are planned to be performed from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate. Two or three launches will be conducted from the Severodvinsk submarine and at least one of them will be made from the underwater position. The NPO Mashinostroeniya Enterprise, a subsidiary of the Tactical Missiles Corporation that is the developer of the Tsirkon missile, did not comment on the information.

The 3M22 Zircon, also spelled as 3M22 Tsirkon (NATO reporting name: SS-N-33), is a scramjet-powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile currently in testing by Russia. Zircon is believed to be maneuvering, winged hypersonic cruise missile with a lift-generating center body. A booster stage with solid-fuel engines accelerates it to supersonic speeds, after which a scramjet motor with liquid-fuel in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.

The missile's range is estimated to be 135 to 270 nautical miles (155 to 311 mi; 250 to 500 km) at low level, and up to 400 nmi (460 mi; 740 km) in a semi-ballistic trajectory;[20] average range is around 400–450 km (250–280 mi; 220–240 nmi). According to state-owned media, the longest possible range is 540 nmi (620 mi; 1,000 km) and for this purpose a new fuel was created.

Zircon can travel at a speed of Mach 8–Mach 9 (6,090–6,851 mph; 9,800–11,025 km/h; 2,722.3–3,062.6 m/s). Such high speeds would likely create a cloud of plasma around the missile, absorbing any radio waves and making the missile virtually invisible to radars (plasma stealth). This has led to concerns that it could penetrate existing naval defense systems. Zircon exchanges information in flight and can be controlled by commands if necessary.

Zircon will be first deployed with the Kirov-class battlecruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikiy after 2020. The ships will have their P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles replaced with the 3S-14 universal VLS cells capable of carrying the Oniks, Kalibr and Zircon anti-ship cruise missiles; each vessel is to be equipped with 72 such missiles. After completion of their refit, the ships could carry 40–80 anti-ship cruise missiles of different types. Other platforms are likely to include Russian Navy's Admiral Grigorovich class and Admiral Gorshkov class frigates, as well as Gremyashchiy class, Buyan class and Karakurt class corvettes, mainly due to the installation of the compatible 3S-14 vertical launchers.


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