Home Europe In a first, Russia tests Zircon hypersonic missile from submerged sub

In a first, Russia tests Zircon hypersonic missile from submerged sub

Severodvinsk launching Zircon missile
Photo: Video screengrab

The crew of Russian Navy Yasen-class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine Severodvinsk completed a successful launch of the Zircon hypersonic missile from a submerged position, the Russian defense ministry announced on October 4.

The ministry also released video footage of the purported hypersonic missile launch, which was actually the second test event performed by Severodvinsk in as many days.

According to the defense ministry, the submarine performed the first-ever launch from a surfaced position a day before.

As revealed by the defense ministry, Severodvinsk was 40 meters below the surface of the White Sea when it launched the Zircon at a conditional sea target in the Barents Sea. The ministry added that the flight of the missile, from getting out of the water to hitting a conditional target, fully corresponded to the specified parameters.

The Zircon hypersonic missile, which is said to be capable of attaining speeds of about Mach 9, had previously only been fired by surface warships, such as the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov. A Russian defense ministry statement following the frigate launch said the missile achieved a speed of over Mach 8, covering a distance of around 280 miles.

On October 4, Russia released two videos showing the stated launch of Zircon missiles from Severodvinsk. The first is supposedly from the surfaced, and the second, from the submerged position.

Russia has a lot of testing to undertake before the missile can be introduced to the fleet, an Interfax report said.

“These are smart missiles. The test system for such missiles is complex. Single launches are just the beginning. We have to conduct salvo firing. Serious tests are still ahead,” Interfax reported former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, retired Admiral Vladimir Komoedov, as saying.

Russia started flight tests with the missile in 2020 and is preparing to start serial deliveries to the armed forces in 2022, according to earlier statements by defense officials.

Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed in 2019 that the Zircon would be capable of hitting targets at distances of over 1,000 kilometers.