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At the speed of hypersound: “Zircon” for the first time passed complex tests

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During the launch on October 6, the Zircon hypersonic missile was tested for the first time together with an unparalleled control system and an ultra-precise homing head, Izvestia found out. Previously, only individual units and components of the product were tested. The missile covered 450 km in 4.5 minutes, which, according to experts, leaves the enemy only a fraction of a second to defeat it. The successful test of the Zircon is a great event not only for the Russian Armed Forces, but for the entire country, President Vladimir Putin noted during a meeting with Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

New hypersound: the Navy will receive a frigate equipped with “Zircons” Tests of the modernized ship “Marshal Shaposhnikov” will begin this year

Minutes to the goal

As the chief of the General Staff reported to the head of state, on the eve of the frigate “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov” in the White Sea for the first time a test launch of a hypersonic cruise missile “Zircon” was carried out at a sea target. She flew 450 km in 4.5 minutes, reaching a speed of over Mach 8 and a maximum altitude of 28 km. The missile hit right on target.

“After the completion of state tests, it is planned to equip submarines and surface ships with the Zircon complex,” concluded General of the Army Valery Gerasimov.

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Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation - First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Valery Gerasimov (on the screen) during a videoconference meeting. The Chief of the General Staff informed the President of the Russian Federation about the successful test of the Zircon hypersonic missile

Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Valery Gerasimov (on the screen) during a videoconference meeting. The Chief of the General Staff informed the President of the Russian Federation about the successful test of the Zircon hypersonic missile

Photo: RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin

The President congratulated everyone who participated in the work on “Zircon” and thanked the leadership of the military department.

– For this work, we know about it, the enormous work of our scientists, designers, talented workers, military specialists. This is a big stage in equipping the armed forces with the latest systems, the head of state noted.

Complete set

Ice time: Yasen project boats will be able to launch Zircons in the Arctic Russian attack nuclear submarines are ready to perform any combat missions in the northern latitudes

Information about the test launches of “Zircons” with reference to unofficial sources previously appeared twice this year. In February, it was reported about the first firing from the “Admiral Gorshkov”, during which the missile hit a target at one of the ground ranges. The second launch took place in the summer.

According to Izvestia’s sources, previously only individual units and components of the product were tested. In particular, launches were made to the maximum range without the use of control and guidance systems. Throw tests and so-called burns were also carried out – separate tests of the operation of the product’s engines. Now “Zircon” has fully completed its flight program. In particular, according to Izvestia, the rocket for the first time used an unparalleled control system and a homing head. The latter gives the product the highest accuracy with which it can hit even miniature targets.

According to sources, during this test launch, the rocket performed the most difficult maneuvers on the way to the target. This makes the trajectory of its flight unpredictable, and the ammunition itself is invulnerable to interception.

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The first launch of the Zircon hypersonic missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea against a sea target in the Barents Sea

The first launch of the Zircon hypersonic missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea against a sea target in the Barents Sea

Photo: RIA Novosti / Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

The maximum flight altitude, named by the chief of the General Staff (28 km), suggests that, possibly, at a certain section of the route, the missile goes up sharply and then dives, military historian Dmitry Boltenkov suggested.

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“This further increases its chances of bypassing air defense and missile defense systems,” the expert noted. – It may be possible to find the ammunition, but to shoot it down is no longer possible. Adoption of the Zircon into service will drastically strengthen the fleet. He will get a strong hand that can reach the opponent in a matter of minutes. On a test launch, the rocket covered 450 km in 4.5 minutes. The enemy needs to detect it, classify it, make a decision, issue target designation, process the data and open fire. In the case of Zircon, time for him will go for a split second.

The frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” has universal launchers, said Dmitry Boltenkov. Previously, the ship fired Caliber cruise missiles from them. The presence of such installations will allow the domestic fleet to use different types of ammunition as needed.

– Russia actively developed anti-ship missiles after the Great Patriotic War and for many years was a leader in this area. Now we are reaching a new level, which in the coming years will no longer be available to anyone, the expert concluded.

Missile characteristics

The video released on October 7 of the launch of the Zircon rocket provided some clarity in understanding its design.

The launch is carried out from a universal vertical launch launcher 3C-14-22350. It is believed that this is a variant of the conventional 3C-14 installation adapted for the heavier Zircons in the variant of placement on ocean-going frigates of Project 22350. In the launch configuration, the rocket nose, where the air intake of the cruise ramjet engine is obviously located, is covered with a special fairing. The rocket is universal and is designed for both surface and underwater launch. Therefore, the tasks of the fairing include protecting the product when moving through the water column when starting from a submarine, and turning the rocket after the vertical exit from the launcher.

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The first launch of the Zircon hypersonic missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea against a sea target in the Barents Sea

The first launch of the Zircon hypersonic missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea against a sea target in the Barents Sea

Photo: RIA Novosti / Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

Alignment with hypersound: the ships of the Udaloy project will receive the Zircons After the modernization of the BOD, they will become mini-missile cruisers

Apparently, the ammunition uses a system of post-launch rotation and orientation in space, similar to a similar system of the Onyx anti-ship cruise missile developed by the same NPO Mashinostroyenia. The system of solid-propellant attitude control engines turns the product on a course to the target, brings it to a horizontal position, removes and takes away the fairing. After that, the marching stage of the solid-propellant first stage of the rocket is launched.

The first stage of “Zircon” is also unusual and includes the starting part of the engine, which ensures the exit of the rocket from the launcher, passage through the water column during an underwater launch, or takeoff to a safe height above the carrier ship. The marching part of the solid-propellant launch stage provides the product with acceleration to hypersonic speed.

After separation of the accelerating first stage, the cruise speed is maintained by a ramjet engine. In this configuration, the rocket can begin to maneuver through the atmosphere using aerodynamic surfaces. When performing maneuvers at hypersonic speed, the Zircon becomes invulnerable to modern air defense systems. This makes the missile a unique anti-ship weapon or a breakthrough system for air defense and missile defense.

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