- Admiral Gorshkov was built in 2010.
- Zircon's predecessor was the X-90-GAEL.
- The test launch of Zircon was done from the Barrents Sea.
Russia announced successful testing of the Hypersonic missile Zircon from an Admiral Gorshkov class ship, the Russian Naval Fleet’s lead ship of the 22350 multi-purpose frigate project. The ship was built in St. Petersburg in 2010 and is the fourth generation of Russian missile-carrying ships. For a long time, little was known about the ship. In eight years, the Admiral Gorshkov made several training trips in the Baltic and North Sea.
Admiral Gorshkov has multitasking capabilities that can resist both surface and underwater enemy vessels, as well as deflect air and missile attacks. In addition, the ship is able to hit ground targets on the coast, and to carry out convoys and landings. Russia has long needed a ship with such a wide range of abilities. In addition, the Admiral Gorshkov became the first Russian warship whose documentation was made entirely on “paperless” technology using the FORAN computer system. The ship was officially adopted by the Russian Navy in July 2018.
Zircon’s predecessor was the X-90-GAEL, which was designed during the Soviet Era. The first time Russia publicly acknowledged Zircon for the first time in 2016.
The test launch of Zircon was done from the Barrents Sea and the speed exceeded 500 km. Russia plans to carry out additional tests during 2020. The goal is to start launching Zircon from nuclear submarines. The purpose of Zircon is to target enemy surface ships equipped with air and missile defense systems that can effectively intercept modern supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles.
- The range of the rocket is 1500 km.
- Speed of about Mach 6.
- The warhead of the ZK-22 weighs at least 200 kg.
- 500 km is the radius of destruction.
Judging by the stated characteristics, the main trump card of this weapon is speed. The Mach 8 speed was recorded at the peak of the trajectory– this is a guarantee that it is absolutely impossible to intercept the missile with existing means of protection.
Russia will include Hypersonic missiles in the arsenal of nuclear multi-purpose submarines of project 949A and project 885m “Yasen-M,” as well as the nuclear cruisers of project 1144 “Orlan” and the advanced destroyers of project 23560.
Despite Russia’s success, there are still significant obstacles; the thermal barrier still remains a serious problem to Hypersonic flight. Supersonic flight mode is extremely expensive in terms of thrust and fuel consumption. The level of complexity of this problem rapidly increases with a decrease in altitude.
Russia will continue with its goals in the Hypersonic weapons field. The technology continues to evolve.