President Vladimir Putin said on July 31, 2022 declared that the Russian Armed Forces will obtain Zircon hypersonic missile systems in the coming months. Announcing this in the Navy Day Parade, he said that the latest Zircon hypersonic missile systems are unstoppable and have no analogues in the world. Putin mentioned that the delivery to the Russian Armed Forces will begin in the coming months.
The frigate Admiral Gorshkovwill be the first to take up combat duty with this weapon on board. The missile could have a speed of Mach 9 (over 11,000 kph) and a flightrange of more than 1,000 km. The Zircon hypersonic cruise is designed to be deployed on surface ships.
The first official Zircon test is reported to have held in October 2020. In the latest test, amidst Ukraine war, the Zircon Missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate stationed in the Barents Sea and “successfully hit” a target stationed 1,000 km away in the White Sea.
Zircon is believed to be a manoeuvring, winged hypersonic cruise missile with a lift-generating centre body. A booster stage with solid-fuel engines accelerates it to supersonic speeds, after which a scram jet motor with liquid-fuel in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.
HIGH SPEED AND BETTER TARGET
The high speed of speed of Mach 9 gives Zircon better target-penetration characteristics than lighter subsonic cruise-missiles, such as Tomahawk. Being twice as heavy and almost eleven times as fast as Tomahawk, the Zircon has more than 242 times the on-cruise kinetic energy of a Tomahawk missile. The missile cannot be be intercepted by existing missile defence systems because of its speed. Moreover, its precision makes it lethal to large targets such as aircraft carriers. As the missile flies at hypersonic speeds within the atmosphere, the air pressure in front of it forms a plasma cloud as it moves, absorbing radio waves and making it practically invisible to active radar systems.
Russia showed off its hypersonic missile Zircon to send a message to the West, especially America, that it can teach a lesson or two if it continues to fortify Ukraine with more weapons. It is also a message to the members of NATO that they are not in a safe zone.