MOSCOW --- The Northern Fleet’s Project 22350 lead frigate Admiral Gorshkov has left for the Belomorsk base for undergoing maintenance and loading a Tsirkon hypersonic missile for the next test-launch, a source in the defense industry told TASS on Monday.
"The frigate Admiral Gorshkov has left for the Belomorsk naval base for undergoing some maintenance work and also for loading a Tsirkon missile launcher," the source said.
As the source specified, "the hypersonic missile’s second test-firings are expected to be carried out from the ship in April-May."
The Northern Fleet’s press office and also the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the company, which has developed the Tsirkon hypersonic missile and is part of Tactical Missiles Corporation, according to the media’s data) declined to comment on this information for TASS.
Russia test-launched its Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov for the first time in early January (in late December 2019, according to other data) when the warship fired the weapon from the Barents Sea against a ground target to a range of over 500 km. The frigate is set to carry out 3-4 test-launches of the Tsirkon hypersonic missile by the end of the year.
Tsirkon hypersonic missile
In early 2011, then-Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin announced plans to develop the Tsirkon shipborne system with the hypersonic missile. According to media reports, the missile’s flight tests began in 2015. By late 2018, more than ten test-launches had been conducted, according to the data of a TASS source.
In his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly in February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the work on the Tsirkon hypersonic missile was proceeding as scheduled. As the Russian leader said, the Tsirkon is capable of developing a speed of Mach 9 and its striking range capability can exceed 1,000 km. The Russian leader also said that the Tsirkon could strike both naval and ground targets. Putin specified at the time that there were plans to deploy Tsirkon on serial-produced surface ships and submarines, including the warships built or under construction for Kalibr cruise missiles.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said in November 2019 that there were plans to deploy Tsirkon missiles on the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov currently undergoing modernization and on the Project 949A multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarine Irkutsk. In December 2019, Head of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov said that it would be possible to deploy Tsirkon hypersonic missiles on all Russian ships of new Projects.
The ZS-14 universal shipborne launching system is used for Tsirkon missile launches. These launchers are installed, in particular, on Project 22350 frigates, Project 20380 corvettes and on Yasen-class multipurpose submarines.