Russische Zircon hypersonische kruisraket infographic
Graphic shows Zircon SS-N-33 hypersonic missile,


Russische Zircon hypersonische kruisraket

By Phil Bainbridge

January 5, 2023 - Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” to the Atlantic Ocean armed with the new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, the centrepiece of Russia's hypersonic arsenal.

Hypersonic missiles’ manoeuvrability and speed - travelling at up to nine times the speed of sound - enables them to avoid most missile defences, but Zircon is unlikely to provide any additional operational advantage in the Ukraine war.

To hit Ukrainian targets, the ship would need to have Turkey’s permission to enter the Black Sea, or fire the missiles over NATO territory from the Mediterranean, a scenario which could cause an international incident, and potentially lead to Russia‘s newest weapon falling into NATO hands. Its deployment appears largely deterrent at this point.

In a signal to the West that Russia will not back down over the war in Ukraine, the frigate will sail to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and to the Mediterranean Sea. Russian state TV channel has in the past claimed US decision-making centres including the Pentagon would become likely targets for Zircon missiles if Washington decided to attack Moscow, implying that they could be nuclear-tipped.

PUBLISHED: 05/01/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images