Third test of the hypersonic missile Zircon. Russia seems to have a problem [video]

WARSAW, (BM) – The Russian defense ministry announced another, already the third launch of the Zircon hypersonic rocket from the “Admiral Gorshkov” missile frigate this year, learned ciitng Defence24. Considering the costs of such tests and the hiding of the January 2020 tests, this may mean that the Russians have a problem with the new missile and have to repeat the tests without obtaining the required results.

Read more: Russian hypersonic weapons will become the ‘killer’ of US aircraft carriers

Ministry of Defence’s announcement of November 26, 2020 did not differ from the previous two, which also described the tests carried out with the use of Zircon type hypersonic rockets. Importantly, both in January, October and November 2020, the shooting was carried out using the prototype frigate of the project 22350 “Admiral Fłota Sowietskowo Soyuza Gorshkov”.

In November 2020, a rocket was launched from the White Sea towards a “composite target” prepared in the Barents Sea. According to the official announcement, the Zircon missile was flying at a distance of 450 km at a speed eight times the speed of sound. In line with the practice, the area where the shield object was deployed was secured by the naval forces of the Northern Fleet, including the missile cruiser “Marshal Ustinov” and the frigate “Admiral Flota Kasatonov”.

The shooting was officially carried out as part of “testing new types of weapons”. The Russians also recalled that “the Frigate Admiral of the Gorshkov Fleet for the first time fired the Cirkon” maneuvering missile in early October 2020 “. In fact, this information may be false, because in February 2020, the Russian TASS agency reported that the first shooting of this type of hypersonic missile took place in January 2020.

Russia plans to put into service Zircon hypersonic missile in 2022

The latest Russian hypersonic Zircon missile is planned to be adopted in 2022, as we reported earlier this year according a source in the Russian military-industrial complex. “According to the plan, the ship complex with the Zircon rocket should be put into service in 2022,” the source said.

He specified that tests of Zircon from the head frigate of project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov will be completed this year. The ship will hit both coastal targets and sea shields imitating enemy ships with a hypersonic missile. In 2021, the source noted, test firing by Zircon from the head of the Project 885 multipurpose submarine (code “Ash”) “Severodvinsk” will take a place. “The first launch of the rocket from the submarine is planned to be carried out from the surface, the second – from under the water,” the source added.

The machine-building NGO (part of the Tactical Missile Arms Corporation), which, according to media reports, developed the Zircon missile, declined to comment on the information provided by the source.

What do we know about “Zircon”

Long before the Ministry of Defense showed its now famous video, it was known that the missile was sized to be launched from the 3S-14 vertical launch unit. This was due to the fact that no other installations for surface ships were developed in Russia (the only exceptions are the launchers for the Uranus missile weapon system). All missiles, except for the “Uranium” missiles, launch to the target from the 3C-14 – which means that the new “Zircon” could not be an exception. And this meant that its size was approximately understandable – no more than that of the Onyx anti-ship missile.

Read more: Russia will speed up tests of the Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile

First, because there are no materials that could withstand the heating of the rocket body during prolonged hypersonic flight at low altitude. And secondly, because it is possible to accelerate such a relatively small rocket to hypersound, and even when starting from a surface carrier, only by using a descent from a great height to gain speed.

Ground target launches confirmed these calculations. But after launching at a surface target, the Ministry of Defense named the exact parameters – a range of 450 kilometers, an altitude of up to 28 kilometers (a “slide” with climb and descent to the target), an average speed of 1.67 kilometers per second on the route. I must say that the range for launches against ground targets was greater – that is, 450 kilometers, apparently, is far from the limit.

But what came as a surprise to many was the huge number of coincidences of the Zircon parameters with the old Onyx supersonic rocket. A similar hull shape, a similar air intake casing, practically the same development of gas-dynamic rudders when the rocket turns to the target after exiting the transport and launch container.

There is also an important difference – the “Zircon”, in comparison with the “Onyx”, has a much more powerful energy of the accelerator (judging by the flame) and the departure of the rocket sharply upward. “Onyx” turns to a position close to horizontal, so as not to make a “slide”, not to rise high above its ship and thus not to unmask the location of the ship for the enemy at the time of the missile launch. It was not possible to do this with Zircon, which has obvious reasons – this rocket needs to accelerate and go to the top point of its trajectory as quickly as possible and along an energetically optimal trajectory, there is nothing to be done about it.

The fact that the Onyx developments will be used in a new rocket is very logical. On the other hand, from the same fact that the Zircon is similar to the Onyx, it clearly follows that in addition to another, but also a ramjet engine, our engineers have achieved some kind of breakthrough in terms of fuel, otherwise increase the “energy” of the rocket in the same dimensions it would be almost unreal. And the new fuel opens up new perspectives for improving Onyx in the future. For example, in terms of increasing the range (by the way, rumors about this are actively circulating).

In general, October 7, 2020 was a good day for our country. But for the Americans this day was clearly bad.

Read more: Forbes: Zircon Missile Will Provide Russia Strategic Advantage Over the US and UK Navy


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