In a major show of force and technological prowess, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a frigate armed with hypersonic missiles to the Atlantic and Indian oceans to deter NATO from any aggression against the Russian forces.
Putin in a video conference with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Igor Krokhmal, commander of the frigate ‘Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov’ said, “this time the ship is equipped with the latest hypersonic missile system — Zircon”.
He added, “I am sure that such powerful weapons will reliably protect Russia from potential external threats”, and “the weapon has no analogues in the world”.
The frigate ‘Gorshkov’ which left the harbour on Wednesday, 4 January 2023, will sail to the Atlantic and Indian oceans, Shoigu said. He explained the main task of the voyage is to counter “threats to Russia and to maintain regional peace and stability jointly with friendly countries”.
Tsirkon, NATO reporting name (3M22 Zircon), is a hypersonic missile which is rumoured to strike targets 1,000 km away with a warhead of 300-400 kg with a maximum speed of 11 Mach.
Hypersonic missiles are missiles flying at speeds above Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound). A Mach means the speed of sound. Missiles flying at hypersonic speeds are very difficult to destroy by the current generation of surface-to-air missile systems due to their high speeds.
Russia is the only country in the world that has fielded hypersonic weapons in active combat. Kinzhal missile is rumoured to be used by Russia against the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. Russian forces have also deployed Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle in their inventory.
China is the only other country with a credible advanced hypersonic missile programme. The US is still developing these weapons. Various other countries like India, France, and Germany are in the early stages of developing hypersonic weapons.
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