Putin deploys new Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles in the Atlantic

  • Putin sends hypersonic missiles into the Atlantic
  • Frigate dispatch with Zircon missiles
  • Putin says no other power has such weapons
  • Russia used hypersonic missiles in Ukraine
  • This content was produced in Russia where the law limits coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

MOSCOW, Jan 4 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin sent a frigate armed with next-generation hypersonic cruise missiles to the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, signaling to the West that Russia will not back down from war in Ukraine.

Russia, China and the United States are in a race to develop hypersonic weapons which are seen as a way to gain an advantage over any adversary due to their speed – greater than five times the speed of sound – and their maneuverability.

During a videoconference with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Igor Krokhmal, commander of the frigate named “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov”, Putin said that the ship was armed with Zircon hypersonic weapons (Tsirkon ).

“This time the ship is equipped with the latest hypersonic missile system – ‘Zircon’,” Putin said. “I am sure that such powerful weapons will reliably protect Russia from potential external threats.”

The weapons, Putin said, had “no analogues in any country in the world.”

More than 10 months after Putin sent troops to Ukraine, the war has no end in sight and has turned into a bitter winter artillery battle that has killed and injured tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides.

Russia also used Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missiles in Ukraine.

Along with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle which entered combat service in 2019, the Zircon forms the centerpiece of Russia’s hypersonic arsenal.

Russia sees the weapons as a way to break through increasingly sophisticated US missile defenses that Putin says could one day shoot down Russian nuclear missiles.

ATLANTIC TRIP

Shoigu said the Gorshkov would sail to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and to the Mediterranean Sea.

“This vessel, armed with ‘Zircons’, is capable of delivering precise and powerful strikes against the enemy at sea and on land,” Shoigu said.

Shoigu said hypersonic missiles could defeat any missile defense system. The missiles fly at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of over 1,000 km, Shoigu said.

The main tasks of the trip were to counter threats against Russia and maintain “regional peace and stability jointly with friendly countries”, Shoigu said.

A US Congressional Hypersonic Weapons Research Service report says Russian and Chinese hypersonic missiles are designed for use with nuclear warheads.

The target of a hypersonic weapon is much more difficult to calculate than for intercontinental ballistic missiles due to their maneuverability.

Beyond Russia, the United States and China, several other countries are developing hypersonic weapons, including Australia, France, Germany, South Korea, North Korea and Japan, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, +79856400243; edited by Philippa Fletcher

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