Russia’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate successfully test-fired a Zircon hypersonic missile and struck a ground target, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced on July 19th.

Footage distributed by the defense ministry showed the Admiral Gorshkov warship launching the cruise missile at a target on the Barents Sea coast in northern Russia.

The tests took place in the Arctic: the rocket was fired from the White Sea at a target in the Barents Sea, it covered more than 350 kilometers, the flight speed was about Mach 7. The tactical and technical characteristics of the weapon were confirmed.

“The Zircon missile successfully hit a target directly at a range of over 350 kilometers. The flight speed reached nearly Mach 7,” the ministry said in a statement.

Putin revealed the development of the new weapon in a state of the nation address in February 2019, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land with a range of 1,000 kilometres and a speed of Mach 9.

It is planned to arm both warships and submarine with the new weapon, both existing ones, and the ones that are under development or being constructed.

The missile has undergone several recent tests and in October 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin described one of the test firings as a “great event not just in the life of our armed forces but for all of Russia”.

In May 2021, The Russian Northern Fleet’s flagship – the Admiral Gorshkov frigate made the transition from Murmansk to Severodvinsk to participate in the final stages of testing promising missile weapons, the press service of the fleet said.

On April 23 this year, the Northern Fleet announced that the lead frigate of project 22350 “Admiral Gorshkov” will complete the test of hypersonic weapons this year. The ships of this project will be the first regular carriers of such weapons, the Navy said.

On December 17, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference that work on the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile was almost completed.

In February 2019, in a message to the Federal Assembly, Putin announced that the Zircon missile would be capable of hitting ground and surface targets at a distance of over 1,000 kilometers at a speed of about Mach 9.

On December 2, 2019, the President of the Russian Federation stated that the strengthening of the capabilities of the Russian Navy in the coming years largely depends on the arrival of frigates and submarines, modified for the use of Zircons, into the combat composition.

In December 2019, Putin said that work was underway on the Zircon hypersonic missile, not only sea-based, but also land-based.

In March 2020, the commander of the Northern Fleet, Alexander Moiseev, announced the tests of hypersonic weapons by the fleet’s submarines.

Russia has boasted of developing several weapons that circumvent existing defence systems, including the Sarmat intercontinental missile and Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Western experts have linked a deadly blast at a test site in northern Russia in 2019 — which caused a sharp spike in local radiation levels — to the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, revealed by Putin in 2018.