Russia Launches Hypersonic ‘Tsirkon’ Missile From Nuclear Submarine For The First Time

The Russian Navy has reportedly fired a Tsircon hypersonic missile from a nuclear submarine for the first time in the Barents Sea, according to a statement released by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Monday, 4 October.

The Tsirkon hypersonic missile, which was launched from the Severrodvinsk nuclear submarine, went through two stages of testing. In the first phase of the test, the Russian navy tested the submarine-launched missile from the surface. As a result of the test, it was reported that the missile managed to successfully hit the target located in the Barents Sea. The second launch test was made from an underwater location in the Barents Sea in the Arctic, at a depth of around 40 meters (131 feet).

“The crew of the Severodvinsk nuclear submarine missile cruiser fired the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile for the first time from below the sea surface, from a depth of 40 meters in the White Sea, to a so-called naval target,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The rockets’ flight from the submarine to reaching the conditional target perfectly conformed to the specified parameters, the shots were effectively executed, and the targets were destroyed, according to the Ministry.

The Tsirkon hypersonic missile was tested on a frigate, the Admiral Gorshkov, several times prior to the submarine tests according to a source close to the Russian Ministry of Defense, as reported by the TASS news agency. The last of the completed firing tests took place in July of this year, with more than ten firing tests carried out.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko stated in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper that serial deliveries of Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missiles to the Russian Armed Forces will begin in 2022. “Tests of the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile and another missile system are progressing successfully. A series of successful Tsirkon launches were carried out in 2020 by the Admiral Gorshkov frigate. Mass production deliveries will begin in 2022.”

The Tsirkon missile, which is one of the new hypersonic weapons presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018, has a range of 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers and can achieve 10 times the speed of sound. NATO has assigned the code 3K-22 to the hypersonic missile. The missile, which does not require a launcher, can cruise at an altitude of 30 to 40 kilometers. The missile’s weight is estimated to be 300-400 kilograms and its length is 8-10 meters. The missile, according to Russia, is unstoppable by air defense systems and can hit all targets above and below the water surface. Russia is expected to equip its cruisers, frigates, and submarines with Tsirkon missiles once they begin to be delivered to the Russian Armed Forces in 2022.