Russia has completed another successful pilot launch of a new hypersonic cruise missile today. The Zircon, which can fly at nine times the speed of sound, struck a target 400 kilometers away.
The new missile is intended to arm Russian cruisers, frigates and submarines. According to President Vladimir Putin, the Zircon is part of a new and unparalleled generation of weapons systems. Apart from the enormous speed that the cruise missile would achieve, the thing has a range of 1000 kilometers.
The hypersonic missile was launched from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea, an area on the edge of the Barents Sea. It was the second test in two weeks. The target of the Zircon was more than 400 kilometers away, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Video footage shows the sky glowing white as the rocket enters the sky. Putin announced the development of hypersonic weapons, including the Zircon, in 2018. According to the president, they could hit targets almost anywhere in the world, without being hindered by the US missile defense system.
“It is very important to continue to develop technology to create new hypersonic weapons, high-energy lasers and robotic systems, which will be able to effectively eliminate potential military threats and enhance the security of our country,” Putin said at the time.
In addition to the Zircon, the president also announced the Avangard and the Kinzhal, which in terms of speed are ahead of the said rocket launched last night. The Avangard is a glider, loaded with a conventional or nuclear payload, which flies along with intercontinental missiles and then sets course for its target.
During its descent, it reportedly reaches 27 times the speed of sound (mach) and can perform sharp maneuvers to evade missiles. The first Avangard was already put into service at the end of 2019. The Kinzhal rocket has been in service since December 2017, which is jettisoned by an aircraft and reaches Mach 10.
Putin called the weapons a “breakthrough” that will “guarantee Russia’s military security for many years, and even decades.” Like the Russians, the United States, China and North Korea are also developing missiles that can reach speeds of about 6,200 kilometers per hour in the upper atmosphere.