Russia’s hypersonic Zircon missile is expected to go into production in 2018, Tass news agency reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified source. The report comes after Russia began testing the missiles last month.
“State tests of Zircon are scheduled for completion in 2017 in accordance with the contract, and the missile’s serial production is planned to be launched next year,” the source told Tass.
Russia’s nuclear-powered missile cruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Veliky will be installed with the Zircon missiles, another source told Tass. Pyotr Veliky will reportedly be upgraded in 2018, while Admiral Nakhimov is being refitted and is expected to join the Russian navy the same year.
“The Admiral Nakhimov heavy missile cruiser’s deep modernization envisages the replacement of the warship’s missile strike system. As a result, the vessel will get the Zircon hypersonic missiles,” a second source told the news agency.
According to the report, the 3K22 Zircon system tests are likely to be completed by 2020 and the missile was expected to be unveiled in air-launched and ship-based versions.
The hypersonic missiles are expected to reach five or six times the speed of sound (Mach 5 or Mach 6). Modern Russian anti-ship missiles, like Onyx, can reach up to Mach 2.6 (0.46 miles a second). The sea-based Kalibr cruise missile travels at a Mach 0.9 speed, but while approaching the target, its warhead speeds up to Mach 2.9.