On Tuesday the Russian Navy successfully tested its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile against a maritime target in the Barents Sea.
Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported that the missile was launched by the North Sea Fleet frigate Admiral Gorshkov, striking a maritime target 450 kilometers away and reaching a maximum speed of Mach 8. The Zircon was first tested from the Admiral Gorshkov against a land target in January and again in July.
The Zircon is a scramjet-propelled anti-ship 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 and that, following the dissolution of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with the United States in 2019, a mobile, land-based variant of the Zircon would be developed as well.
It was not reported whether Tuesday’s target was stationary or maneuvering when it was hit, leaving open questions about the effectiveness of the missile’s guidance and maneuverability. If the Zircon works as advertised, it would present a significant potential threat against any other navy’s surface fleet. The speed of maneuverable hypersonic weapons is so great that they are considered to be effectively impossible for targeted vessels to defend against.