Russia test-launches Tsirkon hypersonic missile from ship for first time

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Russia test-launched its Tsirkon hypersonic missile from a ship for the first time when the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov fired the weapon from the Barents Sea against a ground target in January, two sources in defense circles of Russia’s North-Western Federal District told TASS on Thursday.

“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 military testing ranges of the Northern Urals in early January,” one of the sources said.

The other source confirmed this information, noting that “the range of the Tsirkon’s flight exceeded 500 km.”

The source also informed that the test-launches of the Tsirkon hypersonic missile from seaborne delivery vehicles 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 commented.

The Research and Production Association of Machine-Building declined to comment on this information for TASS.

As the press office of Russia’s Northern Fleet reported in November last year, the frigate Admiral Gorshkov arrived at the Belomorsk naval base in the town of Severodvinsk to prepare for the trials of new weapon systems.

Tsirkon hypersonic missile

In his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly in February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the work on the Tsirkon hypersonic missile was proceeding as scheduled. As the Russian leader said, the Tsirkon is capable of developing a speed of Mach 9 and its striking range capability can exceed 1,000 km. The Russian leader added that the Tsirkon could strike both naval and ground targets. Putin specified at the time that there were plans to deploy Tsirkon on serial-produced surface ships and submarines, including the warships built or under construction for Kalibr cruise missiles.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko indicated in November 2019 that there were plans to deploy Tsirkon missiles on the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov currently undergoing modernization and on the Project 949A multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarine Irkutsk. In December 2019, Head of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov said that it would be possible to deploy Tsirkon hypersonic missiles on all Russian ships of new Projects.

The Project 22350 lead frigate Admiral Gorshkov displaces 4,500 tonnes and is 135 meters long. It carries Kalibr cruise missiles as its main armament.