A Russian warship has carried out a test-fire of a state-of-the-art missile capable of flying many times faster than the speed of sound as part of exercises off the Arctic Ocean, Russian military bosses confirmed on Monday.
In a statement, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense said that the Zircon missile was launched from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate from a position in the White Sea, and successfully struck a naval target more than 400 kilometers away. According to the announcement, surface ships and naval aircraft from the Northern Fleet helped to close off the region for the security of the launch.
The test comes just two weeks after another demonstration of the Zircon’s capabilities, which officials said was also successful. The most recent test apparently means the missile has completed its current round of trials.
The Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is designed to provide superiority at sea and can reach a speed of Mach-9 – nine times the speed of sound, or 10,000 kilometers per hour. According to naval officials, one of their top priorities is ensuring that they will be able to take out enemy aircraft carrier strike groups in the case of all-out conflict. There had been concern that available missiles did not have the range to attack enemy carriers without being intercepted.
The Zircon missile’s speed, combined with a reduced radar cross-section, will theoretically enable the missile to reach targeted aircraft carriers without a chance for defense or retaliation. It is also meant to be able to intercept enemy supersonic missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed earlier this month that the missiles are nearing completion and will be delivered to the navy starting in 2022. “Now, it is especially important to develop and implement the technologies necessary to create new hypersonic weapons systems, high-powered lasers and robotic systems that will be able to effectively counter potential military threats, which means they will further strengthen the security of our country,” he said in televised remarks.
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