October 2020 marked a great step forward for the Russian Navy, with the successful test of the 3M22 Zircon missile.
Zircon is in the Russian State-level testing phase, one of the few models of hypersonic weapons announced by Putin himself since 2018, in addition to the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which can deliver both nuclear and conventional payloads.
Zircon, codenamed 3M22, is a scramjet powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile, that has been under development since 2011. Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed in 2019 that the missiles will have a maximum range of 1,000 kilometers.
Zircon is believed to be a maneuvering, winged hypersonic cruise missile with a lift-generating center body. A booster stage with solid-fuel engines accelerates it to supersonic speeds, after which a scramjet motor with liquid-fuel in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.
The expected maximum speed of the missile is nine times the speed of sound (equivalent to 10,700 km/h) and the range will be over 1,000 km. Zircon exchanges information in flight and can be controlled by commands if necessary.
Officially revealed at the end of 2019, the Zircon has fully restored Russia’s status as the leader in anti-ship cruise missile capabilities – a position they previously held during the Cold War on platforms like the P-700 Granit and the Kh-22.
Zircon will be first deployed with the Kirov-class battlecruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikiy after 2020. The ships will have their P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles replaced with the 3S14 universal VLS cells capable of carrying the Oniks, Kalibr and Zircon anti-ship cruise missiles; each vessel is to be equipped with 72 such missiles.
Once the latest hypersonic cruise missile is operational and mass production begins, Russian ships and submarines will have the Zircon missile and the anti-aircraft carrier problem will be largely resolved.
|Warhead weight||300-400 kg|
|Propellant||Liquid – “Decilin-M” (Russian: Децилин-М)|
|>1,000 km (540 nmi; 620 mi)|
1,000 – 2,000 km (depending on the type of target)
|Flight altitude||28 km (17 mi)|
|Maximum speed||Mach 8–Mach 9 (6,090–6,851 mph; 9,800–11,025 km/h; 2,722.3–3,062.6 m/s)|
|Submarine, Surface ship,|
Land-based (in development)