Kyiv forensics say Russia used sea-based hypersonic missile, Zircon

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Renowned research is being conducted by the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Examinations [KNDISE] on various types of missiles originating from Russia. These missiles are under analysis following the February 7 attack of this year. 

Photo creditL iStock Illustration

Forensic experts have stated that “preliminary findings suggest that a 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile launched from a sea-based platform was utilized by the Russians during the attack. Significantly, this missile was aimed at a region lacking military installations, resulting in severe impacts on civilian infrastructure and the loss of innocent lives.” 

Director Alexander Ruvin of KNDISE, discussing this information on his Telegram channel, stated that the likely identification of the missile as a Zircon is supported by the unique markings found on the missile fragments and parts, the specific components identified, and the distinct characteristics associated with this type of weaponry.

Laser engraved marking

As Ruvin pointed out, certain elements of the 3M22 Zircon missile carry a distinctive 3M22 marker. However, variations of this signature could appear as 3L22, 3B22, and so forth. Intriguingly, some fragments bore the laser-etched and stamped markings of 3L22, denoting that they were unique parts from a particular assembly. 

Not to be overlooked are the distinct labels found on parts and wreckage from the propulsion engine and steering mechanisms. Even the bolts from the steering apparatus feature the numerical marking 26, a characteristic unique to Zircon, so say our Ukrainian specialists. What’s truly fascinating is the discovery of a marker. This marker pinpoints when these missile components were made. According to the numbers — somewhere between late 2023 and early 2024.

Photo credit: Twitter

Poorly preserved electronics

Ruvin’s paper emphasizes the unsatisfactory preservation and corresponding analysis difficulties of the discovered microelectronics in the remnants of Zircon, due primarily to the extensive physical damage. Concurrently, the specialists at KNDISE are working tirelessly to discern the metal composition from the rocket body fragments and thermal insulation materials. 

“The missile’s severe fragmentation poses challenges in its identification. However, we can confidently state that this weapon doesn’t match the tactical-technical features declared by the adversary. As we delve deeper into expert research, every piece of information will be meticulously discerned and outlined,” stated the lead at KNDISE. 

Photo credit: Defense Express

There are murmurs from Ukraine suggesting that Russia is increasingly resorting to the usage of missile weaponry that was either sparingly utilized or stored in the pipeline until now. The debates revolve around missiles such as the Kh-69, the Zircon — also referred to as Tsircon, the Grom-E1, and a bunch originating from North Korea. Essentially, it appears as though Russia has begun incorporating these new offensive tools, previously only on test runs, into their mainstream usage.

3M22 Zircon

An innovative development in Russia’s military arsenal, the 3M22 Zircon, is currently in progress. This high-tech hypersonic cruise missile represents Russia’s ongoing efforts to enhance its military resources, primarily for its Navy and strategic bomber forces. 

The technical composition of the 3M22 Zircon stands out for several reasons. One of the main attractions is its breathtaking maximum speed of Mach 9. Mach 9 equating to approximately 6,900 mph. This incredible speed is a direct outcome of its scramjet engine. This technology uses the missile’s own speed to pressurize the inflowing air before it ignites, thus providing the propulsion system with superior efficiency and power. 

Photo credit: Sputnik News

Another attribute worth mentioning for the 3M22 Zircon is its extensive operational range. Its range is estimated to be around 1,000 kilometers or roughly 620 miles. Armed with an awe-inspiring speed and range, this missile becomes a sophisticated weapon capable of delivering swift, accurate strikes on targets.

How it works?

Let’s dive into the heart of the 3M22 Zircon – its engine, also known as a scramjet. Now, you might be wondering – what sets a scramjet apart from a regular jet engine? Well, scramjets are decidedly unique. While your typical jet engine relies on moving parts, a scramjet performs a bit of a magic trick. It breathes in the air and uses the missile’s own speed to pressurize it before combustion. The result? A missile that hurtles forward at hypersonic speed. 

Picture this scenario: The 3M22 Zircon is mounted on a ship or perhaps a submarine. With a dramatic swoosh, it launches. A rocket booster propels it until it has surpassed supersonic speeds. The booster is then discarded. The scramjet engine takes center stage, swinging into action, and drives the missile. Thus the missile achieve its hypersonic velocity. The onboard guidance systems are ever reliable, nimbly maneuvering the missile, and steering it straight to its target. Impact is inevitable – the target is hit with formidable power and razor-sharp precision.


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