State tests of Russia’s new cutting-edge hypersonic Tsirkon (Zircon) missile are underway and the class is expected to enter serial production in 2018.
A source in the Russian military-industrial complex told TASS, “State tests of Zircon are scheduled for completion in 2017 in accordance with the contract, and the missile’s serial production is planned to be launched next year.”
Hypersonic missiles and aircraft are capable of speeds of Mach 5 – or five times the speed of sound – or more. The technology has long been regarded as a game changer in warfare systems and prospective aircraft because their speed and maneuverability makes them exceptionally difficult to intercept.
Russia will modernize vessels from its fleet to carry the new class of weapons. From the Kirov-class, Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great), a nuclear-powered missile cruiser will be upgraded beginning in the third of fourth quarter of 2019, with an anticipated completion date in late 2022.
The heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser Admiral Nakhimov will also be modernized and returned to service at approximately the same time. “The Admiral Nakhimov heavy missile cruiser’s deep modernization envisages the replacement of the warship’s missile strike system. As a results, the vessel will get the Zircon hypersonic missiles,” a source told TASS.
The 3M22 and 3K22 Zircon system has been in development trials. Tests of the 3K22 Zircon system is expected to be completed by 2020. Although its characteristics are classified, it is expected to have air-launched and ship-based versions. It is estimated to have a range of 300 kilometers and reach speeds of five or six times the speed of sound.
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