Russian and Chinese missiles are ‘threat’ to US aircraft carriers

WASHINGTON, (BM) – New Russian and Chinese missiles could pose a “real threat” to US aircraft carriers, whose dominance was guaranteed after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, writes Business Insider.

In December 2020, Russia conducted the third test launch of the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, which reached Mach eight. In the summer, China launched two ballistic missiles, which, according to local experts, hit a moving target ship in the South China Sea, which is the first Beijing’s famous demonstration of long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles, writes Business Insider.

“The tests are just the latest evidence that American aircraft carriers, long considered the rulers of the seas, may soon face a real threat to their existence,” he notes, reports.

The article notes that with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, US aircraft carriers’ dominance seemed more than guaranteed, with carrier groups playing a vital role in the conflicts in which Washington was involved since the 1990s. However, according to the author, the “order” established after the conflict gradually began to be challenged.

He notes that hypersonic missiles pose a serious threat to aircraft carriers, as they are too fast for missile defenses to respond effectively, and the ability to alter their flight path makes them virtually impossible to intercept. “The true capabilities of the new anti-ship weapons in Russia and China are still unknown, but recent tests prove that the US Navy’s aircraft carriers may soon lose their unconditional dominance,” the author concludes.

Recall that in 2020 Russia completed the program of flight design tests of the Russian hypersonic missile “Zircon” in full: the Russians carried out three successful launches from the frigate of the Northern Fleet “Admiral Gorshkov,” of which two were for sea targets and one for ground targets. At the end of December 2020, the dates for starting the state tests of “Zircon” became known.

Russian Zircon strikes in seven minutes

The Russian Zircon strikes in seven minutes and remained invisible to radar under certain conditions. The American freelance writer Peter Suciu expressed such an opinion.

According Suciu, the Russian hypersonic missile can hit a target at a distance of 1000 km. for no more than seven minutes. Peter makes this conclusion based on a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019. Putin then told reporters that the missile was developing a speed of Mach 9. The other conclusion the author made was that this missile would not be visible to radar. The reason is in the plasma cloud after launch, which completely covers the rocket. According to the author, this cloud can absorb all radio frequencies, making the missile “invisible”. That way, no one but the Russians will know the ultimate goal of the Zircon hypersonic rocket.

However, the author also pays serious attention to the nuclear warhead topic that the hypersonic Zircon missile would carry. Disputes over the size of the warhead continue to this day to this day by various military experts. Some experts say that due to the range of 1000 km, the warhead would not weigh more than 300 kilograms with reduced other characteristics, such as trajectory and the highest flight point of the rocket. Analysts from the Jamestown Foundation claim that to increase the warhead’s size to reduce the flight altitude of the missile, the maximum range of destruction would be about 700 km.

However, Peter Suciu argues that the warhead’s size in this particular case is not so important. He defended his claim with the kinetic impact of the rocket. I.e., at hypersonic speeds, the missile can inflict severe damage without even needing a warhead.

Russian frigates will be able to carry more Zircon, Kalibr and Onyx missiles

According to the data presented, the advanced frigates of Project 22350 will carry up to 24 strike missiles, including promising Zircons, as we reported in the middle of 2020. A source in the military-industrial complex spokes about the armament of promising frigates for the Russian fleet.

As you know, the Admiral Gorshkov project 22350 lead ship, which has already been put into operation, has 16 launchers, which, in particular, allow the use of new Zircon missiles. The same weaponry will be on the Admiral Kasatonov, which is currently undergoing testing.

However, according to the source, on the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth ships of Project 22350, the number of launchers will be brought up to 24, which will significantly increase the strike potential of one of the main hopes of the Russian fleet.

Note that, in addition to the Zircons, the new frigates will be able to carry Kalibr cruise missiles and Onyx anti-ship missiles. According to another source, strengthening the armament of the ship should not lead to a significant increase in displacement – which, recall, the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” is (full) 5400 tons. Earlier, a source in the defense industry called the dates of testing and taking Zircon into service.


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