Russia to Test Tsirkon Hypersonic Missile Ahead of Rollout for Armed Forces

Russia is set to conduct further test launches of its hypersonic cruise missile from a surface ship, ahead of the planned rollout of the weapon to the nation's armed forces.

President Vladimir Putin has boasted about the Tsirkon (Zircon) cruise missile, which he says can reach speeds of up to Mach 9 or 6,905 mph—well beyond the capability of a traditional missile system.

On July 19, Russia's defense ministry announced a successful launch of the missile from its Admiral Gorshkov frigate on the White Sea. It posted footage of the test on social media, showing the missile hit a target 200 miles away.

State news agency Tass reported on Thursday that "launches from a coastal mount" of the missile had now "been successfully completed."

"Over 10 launches were performed, the latest of them in July," the agency said, citing a defense ministry source.

Tass added that the next series of trials would begin in November and continue in 2022.

"After that, the delivery of the missiles to the Russian armed forces will begin," it said.

Russia's Defense Ministry signed a deal in August with arms contractor NPO Mashinostroyenia to deliver the hypersonic missiles to troops by 2025.

There has been speculation over when Russia will test the Tsirkon missile from a submarine. Hypersonic attacks launched from submarines at unknown locations are more difficult to defend against

Tests were reportedly due to take place from the Northern Fleet's Yasen-class Severodvinsk submarine in June, but state media reported that these had been delayed until August.

A Russian defense source said in August that the tests were scheduled to take place before the White Sea freezes over but there has been no further announcement.

Earlier in September, Russia's deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov told Tass about Moscow's ambitions for global supremacy in hypersonic weapons.

"We have been trying to remain on par or chase the leading weapon designs of Western states for years," he told the agency.

He said Russia had leapt ahead of the rest of the world in its development of hypersonic weapons, which use new types of engine powered by "compact low-power nuclear power plants."

"Right now, we have a serious advantage in this regard over Western states and we will try to preserve this advantage," Borisov said.

In August, Pavel Sozinov, general designer for arms maker Almaz-Antey, dismissed claims made by former President Donald Trump that the U.S. was developing hypersonic missiles that could fly at 17 times the speed of sound.

"These 'super missiles' developed abroad pose no tangible threat to us, and we know how to develop further in this sphere," he told news outlet Sputnik.

Newsweek has contacted NPO Mashinostroyenia and Russia's Defense Ministry for comment.

Russia, Admiral, Gorshkov, fires, Tsirkon, missile
Russia's Admiral Gorshkov frigate test-fires the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile in this photo published on July 19. Further tests are planned for November, according to state news agency Tass. Russian Ministry of Defense