Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday sent a frigate armed with the country’s latest Zircon hypersonic missiles on a transoceanic voyage in a show of force as tensions with the West escalate over the war. in Ukraine.
Russia advertises that the Zircon missile can overcome any Western air defense system by flying at a staggering 7,000 miles per hour (11,265 km/h).
Here’s a glimpse of the ship and its weapons.
PRIORITY OF THE RUSSIA Navy
Entered into service by the navy in 2018 after a long period of trials, the Admiral Gorshkov is the first in a new series of frigates designed to replace aging Soviet-built destroyers such as a key offensive element of the Russian navy.
Armed with an array of missiles, the ship is 130 meters (427 feet) long and has a crew of about 200.
In 2019, it circumnavigated the world’s oceans on a journey of 35,000 nautical miles.
Admiral Gorshkov was once the main test site for Russia’s newest hypersonic missile, the Zircon.
In recent years, Zircon has undergone a series of tests, including launching at various practice targets. The military declared the tests successful and the Zircon officially entered service last fall.
Zircon is designed to arm Russian cruisers, frigates and submarines and can be used against both enemy ships and ground targets. This is one of several hypersonic missiles that Russia has developed.
Putin has hailed the Zircon as a powerful weapon capable of penetrating any existing anti-missile defense system by flying nine times the speed of sound at a range of more than 1,000 kilometers (more than 620 miles).
Putin has emphasized that Zircon gives the Russian military a long-range conventional strike capability, allowing it to accurately strike any enemy target.
The impetus for Russia’s hypersonic weapons development emerges as the US is working on its own conventional Global Rapid Strike capability, which envisages striking enemy strategic targets with conventional weapons leading to the attack. accurate route anywhere in the world within an hour.
Putin heralded Zircon as Russia’s answer to that, claiming that the new weapon was unrivaled, giving Russia a strategic advantage.
Months before ordering the invasion of Ukraine, Putin warned the United States and its NATO allies, warning that Russian warships armed with Zircon would give Russia the ability to attack “decision-making centers.” enemy within minutes if deployed in neutral waters.
Speaking via video link during Wednesday’s farewell ceremony, Putin once again hailed the Zircon as a “unique weapon” that “no other country in the world can match.”
OTHER SUPERSUPER WEAPONS OF RUSSIA
Russia has commissioned Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles for a number of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, which form part of Russia’s strategic nuclear triad. Putin praised the maneuverability of Avangard at supersonic speed when approaching the target, dodging air defense systems.
The Russian military has also deployed Kinzhal hypersonic missiles on MiG-31 aircraft and used them during the war in Ukraine to strike a number of priority targets. Kinzhal is said to have a range of about 1,500 km (about 930 miles).
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin on Wednesday that Admiral Gorshkov would patrol the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean, but did not provide further details.
Shoigu said Admiral Gorshkov’s crew will focus on “countering threats to Russia, maintaining regional peace and stability together with friendly countries.” He added that the crew would practice with hypersonic weapons and long-range cruise missiles “under a variety of conditions”.
Some military experts argue that a single hypersonic missile-equipped warship cannot stand up to the massive navies of the United States and its allies.
But others note that the ability to deploy the destroyer near US shores could be part of Putin’s strategy to strengthen the premise in the Ukraine conflict.
“This is a message to the West that Russia has missiles with nuclear warheads that can easily penetrate any missile defense system,” said pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov. wrote in a comment.