Russian Navy Frigate Admiral Gorshkov to Conduct Second Test Firing of Zircon Hypersonic Missile

The Russian Navy’s lead Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov departed Belomorsky Naval Base to conduct the second test firing of the new Zircon hypersonic missile, TASS news agency reported citing sources.

“On Saturday, Gorshkov went to sea from the Belomorsky Naval Base for a second test launch of the Zircon rocket,” the report quoted one source as saying. A second source noted that the launch of the rocket from the frigate “should take place in the next two weeks.”

According to the report, the second test firing was originally scheduled earlier but the coronavirus pandemic reportedly delayed the launch. The report added that the frigate is expected to test launch the hypersonic missile as many as seven times this year.

The first test firing of the Zircon hypersonic missile from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate was conducted earlier this year marking the first launch of the missile from a naval vessel.The missile was fired against a ground target in the Northern Ural mountain range while the ship was in the Barents Sea. The range of the Tsirkon’s flight reportedly exceeded 500 km.

Zircon missiles are launched from the  UKSK (“universal ship firing complex”) 3S-14 vertical launching system (VLS). These launchers, in particular, are equipped on Project 22350 frigates, Project 20380 corvettes and Yasen-class cruise missile submarines.

Zircon hypersonic missile

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.

Russian 3M22 Zircon/3M22 Tsirkon Hypersonic Cruise Missile Concept
Russian 3M22 Zircon/3M22 Tsirkon Hypersonic Cruise Missile Concept.

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 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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