Two days ago, the RF Ministry of Defense reported on successful tests of the Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile (ASM). This message caused a different reaction in Russia and overseas: some admired, others strained themselves, and still others doubted. What can really change this weapon after entering the troops?
The Zircon 3M22 anti-ship missile system is one of those notorious "Putin's missiles" with which the Russian president frightened his geopolitical partners at a memorable speech before the Federal Assembly. Then there was a lot of irony over the "cartoons", but a year later we can talk about the appearance "in the hardware" of the Avangard missile system and the Kinzhal hypersonic aviation complex. Zircon is the next one promised on that list.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has high hopes for this hypersonic anti-ship missile. The Russian navy today is objectively very inferior to the American one, especially to all the united navies of the NATO countries. The appearance in our armament of "Zircon" can make significant adjustments to the balance of power in the oceans. Its characteristics are mostly classified, but it is known that with a warhead weighing 300 kilograms, the missile will be able to cover a distance of up to 1 kilometers at speeds up to Mach 9. Its main purpose is to destroy sea and land targets.
The extremely high speed of movement is the main advantage of the Zircon. Today, there are simply no missile defense systems that could effectively intercept these anti-ship missiles. If only one missile hits an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, it will literally be torn in half due to the huge kinetic energy of the projectile. This nullifies the capabilities of the Aegis dome over all US Navy AUGs. Instead of being a formidable deterrent to Russia, American carrier strike groups will be forced to stay away from its shores and carriers of hypersonic weapons. In the future, Zircons will be installed not only on surface ships and submarines, but also on the Bastion coastal anti-ship complexes.
Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Gerasimov reported to President Putin on the tests carried out in the White Sea:
Start-up tasks completed. The shooting was recognized as successful. A direct hit of the rocket on the target was recorded.
With all the positive news from this information, rumors began to spread on the Runet that in fact it was not the Zircons, but the Onyx anti-ship missile system that flew from the Admiral Gorshkov. Moreover, its modernized version "Onyx-M". Some supporters of this theory believe that the military could deliberately replace the videos in order to maintain secrecy around hypersonic weapons. Others suggest that Sergei Shoigu's department could have hurried to "fit a gift" for President Vladimir Putin's birthday.
Whether this is true or not, we do not know. Keeping the Zircons secret is a must given that the United States and other countries are actively involved in the hypersonic arms race. But still, the version that instead of the newest anti-ship missile, we were shown an anti-ship missile of the previous generation, raises deep doubts. The video posted on the Web is now being studied under a microscope by military experts around the world, and the fact of forgery would not hide from them.