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Russia to test-fire Tsirkon anti-ship Mach 9 hypersonic missile 10 times in next few months

Russia’s M-22 Tsirkon or Zircon anti-ship hypersonic missile will be test-fired at least 10 times in the next few months before it is inducted into service by 2022. According to Russian news agency TASS, Tsirkon, which had travel at speeds up to Mach 9 (over 11113 kilometres per hour), will be fired from naval warships and submarines as part of the trials.

TASS quoted a Russian defence source and reported that all the 10 trials will take place in 2020-2021 out of which seven to eight will be carried out from Admiral Gorshkov frigate. The remaining two to three test-firing will take place “from the Severodvinsk submarine with at least one of them while submerged”. Russian Navy’s K-560 Severodvinsk belong to the Yasen class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine

All of Tsirkon’s test-firings will be against targets on the ground and at sea. According to Russian defence officials, Tsirkon can strike targets on land and at sea over 1,000 km away and its hypersonic speed helps in evading all air defence systems currently operational.


Russian Defence Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu on March 25, 2020, had revealed in the country’s Parliament that Tsirkon was undergoing test launches.

Former Russian deputy defence minister Vladimir Popovkin had in early 2011 announced the plans to develop a ship and submarine-launched hypersonic missile system. While the first test launch of Tsirkon officially started in 2015, some Russian media reports claim that the missiles were also test-fired from the Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic bomber in 2012.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2019 announced that Tsirkon’s development was progressing as per schedule. The missile has been designed by NPO Mashinostroeniya Military-Industrial Corporation, which is in Reutov near Moscow.

Russia and India are also jointly developing a hypersonic version of the BrahMos missile. Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy have already inducted the BrahMos missile, which is capable of hitting targets with pinpoint accuracy 300 km away at a speed of almost Mach 2.8-3 (about 3704.4 kmph), in their arsenal.

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