RUSSIA’S ZIRCON HYPERSONIC MISSILE CHALLENGES US NAVAL DOMINANCE | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


RUSSIA’S ZIRCON HYPERSONIC MISSILE CHALLENGES US NAVAL DOMINANCE

While the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile has not attracted the same level of media attention as the strategic Avangard re-entry vehicle or even the air-launched Kinzhal aeroballistic missile, it nevertheless represents an important advance in military technology and represents the state-of-the-art of Russian technologies. It promises to maintain and even expand Russia’s conventional deterrence through its high guarantee of effective retaliatory capability even against the most advanced anti-air and anti-missile defenses.

The secrecy surrounding the 3M22 Zircon, to the point of there existing no official images of the weapon, is remarkable and reminds one of the careful effort to conceal the true nature of the P-700 Granit heavy anti-ship missile, specifically its air-breathing ramjet propulsion. It is also indicative of the importance attached to this weapon by the Russian government. Zircon has already been assigned a NATO reporting designation of SS-N-33, indicating that the alliance is treating the reports of its development and testing fairly seriously. As well it should, given that the weapon system is being developed by the world-famous NPO Mashinostroyeniya know for, among other things, the aforementioned Granit and the Oniks/Yakhont cruise missile boasting ramjet propulsion, top speeds several times the speed of sound, and the capability of striking land and naval targets. While the Granit was never used in combat, Oniks has already proved itself in Syria, where it was used to destroy extremist high-value targets with high precision and played an important role in deterring NATO strikes against Syria by threatening its naval assets in the Mediterranean.

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