Admiral Gorshkov to test-launch Tsirkon hypersonic missiles in the Barents Sea

Admiral Gorshkov frigate launching Tsirkon hypersonic missile (Credit: Russian MoD)

Project 22350 lead frigate Admiral Gorshkov operational in the Northern Fleet’s division of missile ships has deployed to the Barents Sea for test-launches of Tsirkon hypersonic missiles, Russian TASS agency shared by citing Russian Northern Fleet’s press office report.

“The crew of the frigate Admiral Gorshkov has deployed to the Barents Sea where it will practice some elements of a combat training course and conduct firings from its missile and artillery weapons against sea targets,” the press office said.

After the combat exercises in the Barents Sea, the frigate will return to its home naval base of Severomorsk, it said.

The frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov is among the Northern Fleet’s most advanced warships. It was built at the Severnaya Shipyard in St. Petersburg in Russia’s northwest and made operational in the Fleet in July 2018.

In late 2020, the frigate Admiral Gorshkov participated in the trials of Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missiles. During the trials, the warship performed several successful missile firings.

Admiral Gorshkov frigate:

The Admiral Gorshkov is the Project 22350 lead frigate. Warships of this class displace 4,500 tonnes and can develop a speed of up to 29 knots. They are armed with Oniks and Kalibr missile launchers and also with Poliment-Redut surface-to-air missile systems.

Project 22350 frigates are multi-purpose combat ships capable of effectively fighting enemy surface ships, aircraft, and submarines and delivering strikes against ground and coastal installations to a range of over 1,500 km.

Photo Courtesy of TASS agency

Tsirkon hypersonic missile:

The 3M22 Zircon (or Tsirkon) is a scramjet-powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile currently in testing by Russia which are planned to be completed in 2021.

Zircon is believed to be a maneuvering, winged hypersonic cruise missile with a lift-generating center body. A booster stage with solid-fuel engines accelerates it to supersonic speeds, after which a scramjet motor with liquid-fuel (Decilin [ru]) (JP-10 Jet fuel) in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.

The missile’s range is estimated to be 135 to 270 nautical miles at a low level and up to 400 nm in a semi-ballistic trajectory;[26] average range is around 400–450 km. In the 2020 test, the Ministry of Defense of Russia claimed the missile’s range is estimated to 1,000 – 2,000 km (depends on the type of target)

Zircon can travel at a speed of Mach 8–Mach 9. This has led to concerns that it could penetrate existing naval defense systems. Zircon exchanges information in flight and can be controlled by commands if necessary.

Zircon will be first deployed with the Kirov-class battlecruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikiy after 2020. After completing their refit, the ships could carry 40–80 anti-ship cruise missiles of different types. Other platforms are likely to include Russian Navy’s Admiral Grigorovich class and Admiral Gorshkov class frigates and Gremyashchiy class, Buyan class, and Karakurt class corvettes, mainly due to the installation of the compatible 3S14 vertical launchers.