In Russia, the creation of a new coastal missile system for the Zirkon hypersonic cruise missile has begun. Initially, weapons were created in naval and aviation versions, later only naval versions were developed. AiF.ru understood the features of this weapon system.
It is reported that the new weapons will be able to hit not only surface targets, but also ground ones. It is assumed that it can enter service with the Navy before the end of 2022.
“Zircon” have been developing since 2011. At the beginning of 2022, there were statements that before the end of state tests, mass production of new weapons began. On August 24, 2021, a contract was signed for the supply of “Zircons” in the variant of ammunition for surface ships. Commitments for the supply of missiles must be met by 2025. Rockets are being assembled at the Reutov NPO.
At the same time, its characteristics are not known due to the high secrecy of this weapon. It is assumed that this is a two-stage rocket and its first stage is equipped with a solid rocket engine, and the second — direct-flow air-jet. Judging by the standard containers in which the missiles are delivered to the ship as part of the tests, the length of the Zircon does not exceed 9 meters, and the diameter — 60 cm. It is reported that the rocket currently has no analogues in the world and is capable of carrying out a long aerodynamic flight with maneuvering in dense layers of the atmosphere, using its own engine thrust throughout the route.
Goals, carriers and tasks
“Zircon” — a Russian hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile being developed by JSC VPK „NPO Mashinostroeniya“. The missile is planned to replace the P-700 Granit heavy anti-ship missile. It is part of the 3K22 “Zircon” complex. The fundamental difference of this missile is a significantly higher (up to Mach 8) flight speed compared to both other Russian anti-ship missiles and anti-ship missiles in service with other countries.
The main targets of the surface version of this missile are enemy surface ships of various classes: from frigates to aircraft carriers. The missile should be used against single and group surface and ground targets. The maximum speed of the Zircon, according to various sources, is nine times the speed of sound and is approximately 2.65 kilometers per second at an altitude of 20 kilometers or more than 10 thousand kilometers per hour, which makes it inaccessible to existing enemy missile defense systems. The flight range is estimated at a thousand kilometers, but all tests were carried out at a distance of no more than 500 km.
«Zirkon» frigates of project 22350 will be armed. The first regular carrier of the complex will be the frigate of this series “Admiral Golovko”. It is expected that the nuclear cruiser Admiral Nakhimov, which is currently undergoing modernization, will also be armed with these missiles.
Earlier it was reported that state tests of the Zircon hypersonic missile from a surface carrier is planned to be completed in the summer of 2022. Control launches are planned to be carried out in June-July. These submarine weapons will continue to be tested. The last state test of “Zircon” from a surface carrier was carried out on November 18, 2021. Then the frigate of the Northern Fleet “Admiral Gorshkov” launched a missile at one of the ranges in the White Sea, hitting a sea target with a “direct hit”. Objective control data confirmed the defeat of the target, all parameters corresponded to the specified ones, no other details were reported. The deadlines for the final tests, which should close the program, are determined approximately for the first half of this year. The frigate Admiral Gorshkov remains the test platform for this missile; launches will be carried out from the waters of the White or Barents Seas.
In 2021, more than a dozen launches of Zircon were performed from surface and submarine ships. According to the test results, the missile was recommended for adoption on surface carriers. At the beginning of 2022, there were statements that before the end of state tests, mass production of new weapons began. On August 24, 2021, a contract was signed for the supply of “Zircons” in the variant of ammunition for surface ships. Obligations for the supply of missiles must be met before 2025.
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