PREPARE TO LAUNCH: Russia’s ‘unstoppable’ hypersonic 6,100mph missile capable of wiping out US cities just WEEKS away from final tests
The weapon will be unleashed at sea and land targets from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, according to defence industry sources.
The Zircon – or Tsirkon – which can hit speeds of more than 6,100mph – has been identified by Moscow’s state-controlled TV as Vladimir Putin’s weapon of choice to destroy coastal American cities in the event of an atomic conflict.
The Kremlin leader has called the Mach 8 Zircon “truly unparalleled in the world”, and the Russians have bragged it is “unstoppable”.
“The ship-based Tsirkon hypersonic missile system will carry out firings at land and sea targets from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov,” the source said.
Final tests are due to take place “before the end of July”.
The checks are expected in the White Sea, and the missile is on track to go into service next year, deployed first from the stealth-technology Admiral Golovko frigate.
Tests of land and submarine-launched Zircons are expected by the end of this year.
A key use of the missile is taking out enemy ships and reports suggested its maximum range is between 188 and 620 miles.
There have been unconfirmed reports, however, that its true range is some 1,200 miles.
The missile system’s design and development have been conducted in deep secrecy.
It is one of a number of hypersonic missiles Russia is deploying with the 188 tonne Sarmat – known in the West as Satan-2 – and the biggest beast in Russia’s nuclear arsenal, due for tests in the autumn, and to go into service next year.
Meanwhile, Russia has been holding drills off Crimea in the Black Sea with the frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen practiced eliminating a “notional enemy’s warships” during drills in the Black Sea.
The first Zircon test launch of the missile from the Gorshkov was staged in early October last year – and seen as a 68th birthday present for Putin.
More test launches followed in November and December.
In March, the weapon was fired a total of four times from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the Arctic, and military sources said all had “hit the ‘bullseye’”.
Serial production of the missile is expected in 2022.