Russia Test Fires Hypersonic Tsirkon Missile from Nuclear Submarine for First Time


Moscow: Russia said October 4 it had successfully test launched a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile from a submarine for the first time, a weapon President Vladimir Putin has lauded as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems.

The defence ministry said that the Severodvinsk nuclear submarine had fired the missile in the Barents Sea, successfully hitting its chosen target. The launch took place at night, video footage released by the ministry showed. Russia test fired the Tsirkon missile from a warship in July.

Putin announced an array of new hypersonic weapons in 2018 in one of his most bellicose speeches in years, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield. Russia is generally seen as the world leader in the technology so far. It already has Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles and the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles in its arsenal. Russian officials say the Avangard has reached a staggering 33,000km/h during tests.

Washington is spending billions on several research programmes and said last week it had successfully tested an air-launched hypersonic missile built by Raytheon that reached a speed “greater than Mach 5”. China has also tested hypersonic glide vehicles. According to the US Congressional Research Service, both Russian and Chinese hypersonic systems are designed to be nuclear-armed.

North Korea last week tested what state media called a hypersonic gliding missile, sophisticated weaponry that would be the nuclear-armed nation’s latest technological advance and could factor into the strategic balance.