Russia tests new hypersonic missile Zircon, with 1,000 km range: Report

Updated on May 28, 2022 06:14 PM IST

Hypersonic missiles: Russia isn't the only nation to have nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles - China tested one last year that circled the earth, said media reports confirmed by the Pentagon.

(REPRESENTATIONAL) A still image taken from a video released by Russia's defence ministry on Friday shows a missile being fired from a Russian warship in the Mediterranean sea.(Reuters)
(REPRESENTATIONAL) A still image taken from a video released by Russia's defence ministry on Friday shows a missile being fired from a Russian warship in the Mediterranean sea.(Reuters)
By | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

Russia has successfully test-fired a new hypersonic missile - Zircon - with a range of over 1,000 km (625 miles), news agency Reuters reported Saturday. Reuters cited a Russian defence ministry communication that said the missile had been fired from the Barents Sea and hit a target in the White Sea - a distance of around 1,016 km (631 miles). In earlier tests Russia also claimed to have fired the Zircon from a submerged submarine.

President Vladimir Putin - whose 'special military operation' in Ukraine is now over four months old and has likely killed over 4,000 civilians - described the Zircon as part of a new and unrivalled generation of arms systems, which include advanced missiles and laser weapons.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has not gone even remotely to plans Putin may have had, with the Kremlin suffering significant loss of men and resources to the Ukrainians' dogged defence. It has, though, left large swathes of Ukraine, including major cities like Mariupol, devastated.

READ: As Russia eyes rest of Donbas, Ukraine reminded of Mariupol horrors

Fighting is now focussed on two cities - Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk - the last areas under Ukrainian control in Luhansk, which is one of two regions that makes up the rebel Donbas area.

As the threat posed by Russia's missile systems grows, Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on the West to provide Kyiv with heavy weapons.

More of Russia's advanced weapons systems

Last month, Moscow claimed it had twice fired Kinzhal hypersonic missiles at targets in Ukraine. The Kinzhal - the most recent addition to Russia's arsenal - is an air-launched missile with a reported range of 1,500 to 2,000 km (932 to 1,242 miles), making it an even more devastating weapon.

READ: What is Kinzhal, Russia's advanced hypersonic missile | 5 points

Also last month Moscow test-launched a new nuclear-capable intercontinental missile - Sarmat - capable of carrying 10+ warheads as far as the United States.

And last week Moscow claimed to have used a powerful 'next generation' laser weapon - Zadira - to burn up drones launched by Ukrainian forces. Moscow also claimed to have a second system - Peresvet - in readiness. Western military experts said such weapons could take down Ukrainian drones or artillery and also to blind Ukrainian soldiers, which is banned under rules of war.

READ: 'Peresvet' and 'Zadira': What we know about Russia's new laser weapons

What are hypersonic missiles?

Hypersonic missiles can travel more than five times the speed of sound and manoeuvre in mid-flight, making them much harder to track and intercept than traditional projectiles. In addition, they are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, making them a potentially devastating weapon.

READ: From Kalibr missiles to Smerch rockets: Some weapons Russia using in Ukraine

Who else has hypersonic missiles?

Russia isn't the only nation to have nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles - China tested one last year that circled the earth, media reports confirmed by the Pentagon's top general claimed.

China said it was 'a routine spacecraft test'.

North Korea claimed to have carried out two hypersonic missile tests in January.

With input from AFP, Reuters

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