Russia will carry out about 10 more launches of its newest hypersonic missile, Tsirkon, as part of state trials, a source in Russia’s defense industry told TASS. “Prior to the completion of the Tsirkon system’s state trials, about ten more launches of the hypersonic missile from two carriers are planned to be carried out,” he said. According to the source, the trials will be held in 2020-2021.
“Approximately seven or eight launches at ground and naval target are scheduled from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate, while two or three launches will be performed from the Severodvinsk submarine, at least one of them while submerged,” the source said. The NPO mashinostroeniya (part of the Tactical Missiles Corporation), which, according to media reports, designed the Tsirkon missile, did not comment on the information provided by the source.
In early 2011, then-Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin announced plans to develop the Tsirkon shipborne system with the hypersonic missile. According to media reports, the missile’s flight tests began in 2015. By late 2018, more than ten test-launches had been conducted, according to the data of a TASS source.
In his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly in February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the work on the Tsirkon hypersonic missile was proceeding as scheduled. As the Russian leader said, the Tsirkon is capable of developing a speed of Mach 9 and its striking range capability can exceed 1,000 km.
The Russian leader also said that the Tsirkon could strike both naval and ground targets. Putin specified at the time that there were plans to deploy Tsirkon on serial-produced surface ships and submarines, including the warships built or under construction for Kalibr cruise missiles.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said in November 2019 that 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. In December 2019, Head of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov said that it would be possible to deploy Tsirkon hypersonic missiles on all Russian ships of new Projects.
The ZS-14 universal shipborne launching system is used for Tsirkon missile launches. These launchers are installed, in particular, on Project 22350 frigates, Project 20380 corvettes and on Yasen-class multipurpose submarines. Another defense industry source told TASS that Tsirkon state trials are scheduled for completion in 2021. The missile is expected to enter service in 2022.