Russia Test-Launches Tsirkon Hypersonic Cruise Missile from Ship for First Time

Russia has successfully test-launched its 3M22 Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile from a ship for the first time, TASS news agency reported.

According to the TASS report, the test-launch was conducted in January from the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov while in the Barents Sea against a ground target in the Northern Ural mountain range.

“In accordance with the program of the Tsirkon’s state trials, the Admiral Gorshkov test-launched this missile from the Barents Sea against a ground target at one of [the] military testing ranges of the Northern Urals in early January”, TASS quoted a source as saying.

Another source, cited by the TASS report, confirmed the launch, adding that “the range of the Tsirkon’s flight exceeded 500 km.” The source also said that the test-launches of the missile from naval platforms would be continued in 2020.

“After the program of test-launches from the board of the Admiral Gorshkov is over, these missiles will be test-fired from nuclear-powered submarines,” the source was quoted in the report.

The 3M22 Tsirkon/3M22 Zircon (Циркон, NATO reporting name: SS-N-33) is a scramjet-powered maneuvering hypersonic anti-ship/land-attack cruise missile developed by Russia.

The missile is designed and developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya as a further development of its HELA (Hypersonic Experimental Flying Vehicle) concept that was on display at the 1995 MAKS Air Show.

The Zircon is believed to be a winged 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 in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.

Tsirkon is claimed to have a maximum flight speed of about Mach 9 and a maximum range capability of over 1,000 km. The missile can reportedly hit both naval and ground targets making it both an anti-ship missile (AShM) as well as a land-attack cruise missile (LACM).

Russian 3M22 Zircon/3M22 Tsirkon Hypersonic Cruise Missile Concept
Rendering of a Russian 3M22 Zircon/3M22 Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile in flight.

Russian Frigate Admiral Gorshkov

Admiral Gorshkov (417) is an Admiral Gorshkov class frigate of the Russian Navy and the lead ship of the class. The ship is named after Hero of the Soviet Union Sergey Gorshkov.

The vessel was laid down on 1 February 2006, launched on 29 October 2010 and commissioned on 28 July 2018 with Russia’s Northern Fleet.

Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates displace 4,500 tonnes and can develop a speed of 29 knots. They are armed with P-800 Oniks and Kalibr anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles, and the Poliment-Redut air defense missile system.

Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov
Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov

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