New tests of the latest Tsirkon hypersonic missile will take place at a naval range of the Northern Fleet before the end of the year, a source in defense circles of Russia’s North-Western Federal District told TASS on Friday. «A Tsirkon missile is expected to be launched from the White Sea before the end of the year. The specific date will be set as soon as the technical equipment is ready,» the source said.
Specialists are now making a special stand based on a pontoon, from which the latest missile will be test-fired, the source added. The Research and Production Association of Machine-Building, which is developing the Tsirkon, declined to comment on the missile’s planned trials.
In his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on February 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin informed that the work on the Tsirkon hypersonic missile was proceeding as scheduled. As the Russian leader stated, the Tsirkon is capable of developing a speed of Mach 9 and its striking range capability can exceed 1,000 km. The Russian leader noted that the Tsirkon could strike both naval and ground targets. Experts say the Tsirkon hypersonic missile cannot be intercepted by any existing air defense capabilities.
A source in the defense industry told TASS in late 2018 that more than ten Tsirkon launches had been carried out against naval targets to ranges of several hundred kilometers since the start of the missile’s trials. According to media reports, the missile firings from a sea platform were conducted in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Russian warships and submarines currently armed with Kalibr or Oniks cruise missiles are expected to carry Tsirkon hypersonic weapons. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said on November 8 there were plans to deploy Tsirkon missiles on the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov currently undergoing modernization and on the Project 949A multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarine Irkutsk. Before that, Russian President Putin revealed that the corvette Gremyashchiy might be armed with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles.