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Analysis: Tsirkon missile trials enter final stage - take 2

Russia is holding top-secret trials of Tsirkon hypersonic missile. Media leaks have intentional omissions. However, it is possible to suggest when the important weapon may be accepted into service, the Vzglyad business daily writes.

Analysis Tsirkon missile trials enter final stage take 2 925 001Admiral Gorshkov frigate (Picture source: Yuri Smityuk/TASS)

The secrecy of the trials has its own specifics. Few people know the date of the launch. Few licensed people are allowed to attend. Access to the test site is strictly restricted. The fly-over time of adversary intelligence satellites, the movement of foreign delegations and weather are taken into account. Telemetric data are taken from specific places. In other words, the secrecy is high also for the personnel to rule out unsanctioned photos and videos.

Open sources said the hypersonic 3M-22 missile was designed by NPO-machinostroeniya in Reutov in Moscow region. It is a part of 3K-22 (Tsirkon code) complex which NATO reports as SS-N-33. The missile can develop a speed of Mach 9 and fly at an altitude of 30-40 km where the range and speed increase as air resistance is smaller. Experts estimate the payload at 300-400 kg and the missile length at 8-10 meters. Tsirkon is to be fired from universal vertical launchers 3S-14 on warships and submarines and from Bastion mobile coastal missile launchers.

"I can say that after such tests the missile may be launched into batch production in less than a year," Lieutenant-General and formed chair of Almaz-Antey military-technical commission Alexander Gorkov said. "Lettering should be assigned to the missile. Design documentation should be finalized for industrial production. It will not take much time," he added.

The technical and tactical characteristics are not disclosed and the world records the missiles set are not officially registered in contrast to airplanes. Over 500 km can mean 800 and 1200. If you say over 1000, it may be 1500, he added.

Tsirkon is mostly an anti-ship missile, but can also hit ground targets. It is fired by the same launchers as Onix P-800 and Kalibr 3M-54. Hypersonic missiles can be fired by heavy warships, including the prospective nuclear Leader-class destroyer of project 23560, Yasen-M-class nuclear submarines of project 885M, Antey-class project 949AM and prospective fifth-generation nuclear submarines.

Tsirkon like Kalibr can be fired by ground launchers. In this case, it will mostly target US intermediate-range ballistic missile launchers if they are deployed in Europe and the Pacific region, the Vzglyad said.

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