The Russian Navy has once again test-fired its latest hypersonic anti-ship missile Zircon, also spelled as Tsirkon which is reported to be the advanced version of BrahMos, from the Northern Fleet’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea, the Russian defense ministry announced.
The missile traveled about 450 kilometers before successfully hitting its target in the Barents Sea. This was the third test of Zircon in a year. Besides the missile, several other systems were tested, including a new air defense missile system, the defense ministry said on Thursday.
The hypersonic missile achieved a speed of ‘over Mach 8’, the ministry reported. “According to the recording data, the Tsirkon hypersonic anti-ship missile successfully struck a sea target at a distance of 450 km. In its flight, the missile developed a speed of over Mach 8,” it said.
Previously, the Admiral Gorshkov had test-fired the Zircon in early October, marking the 68th Birthday of President Vladimir Putin. Like the latest one, it was fired from the frigate in the White Sea and successfully struck the target at the Barents Sea, covering a distance of 450 kilometers and reaching an altitude of 28 kilometers. The missile’s total flight time was reported to be four and a half minutes.
A Hypersonic Cruise Missile
The Zircon is currently one of the few hypersonic surface-to-surface cruise missiles in production, and the only one to be in the final stages of formal induction. Primarily designed as an anti-ship missile, it can achieve speeds of Mach 8 or 9800 kilometers per hour. The missile carries a 300-400 kg warhead and is powered by a scramjet engine.
Being a hypersonic vehicle, the missile would be virtually immune to any existing air defense system and can be launched from surface-based platforms, mainly ships and submarines. Its land-based variant is stated to be in the development stages.
It was tested for the first time via the same Admiral Gorshkov frigate in January earlier this year from the Barents Sea when it successfully hit a ground target in excess of 500 kilometers in Northern Urals.
According to unconfirmed reports, the Zircon is a modified version of the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile – a joint Russian-Indian design based on the P-800 Onyx missile. Therefore, by analogy, the Zircon could have an effective range of about 400 kilometers.