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Russia to start Tsirkon hypersonic missile flight trials from Severodvinsk nuclear submarine in September 2021.

| 2021

According to information released by the Russian press agency, TASS on August 26, 2021, Russian-made Tsirkon hypersonic missile will begin flight trials from the Severodvinsk Yasen-class nuclear submarine on September 2021, citing a source of the Russian defense industry.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001Russian Navy K-560 Severodvinsk nuclear attack submarine Project 885. (Picture source Reddit)

The first test launch of Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the Severodvinsk submarine in the White Sea is scheduled in September 2021,” said press officer of the Russian defense industry at the Army-2021 International Military Technical Forum in Moscow, Russia. Several test launches are to be made before the White Sea is covered with ice.

Another source said the submarine launch should be preceded by a test launch from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate. NPO mashinostroenia that designed Tsirkon refused to comment on this information.

Many countries in the world have launched the development of hypersonic missile systems including China, Russia and the United States. Most U.S. hypersonic weapons, in contrast to those in Russia and China, are not being designed for use with a nuclear warhead. As a result, U.S. hypersonic weapons will likely require greater accuracy and will be more technically challenging to develop than nuclear-armed Chinese and Russian systems. Hypersonic missiles can fly at a speed of Mach 5. This type of missile could challenge detection and defense due to its speed, maneuverability, and low altitude of flight. Currently, terrestrial-based radar cannot detect hypersonic weapons until late in the weapon’s flight.

Today, Russia has launched two hypersonic weapons programs including the Avangard and the 3M22 Tsirkon (or Zircon), and has reportedly fielded the Kinzhal (“Dagger”), a maneuvering air-launched ballistic missile.

The Tsirkon is a ship-launched hypersonic cruise missile capable of traveling at speeds of between Mach 6 and Mach 8. The missile is reportedly capable of striking both ground and naval targets. According to Russian news sources, Tsirkon has a range of between approximately 400 and 965 km and can be fired from the vertical launch systems mounted on cruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Veliky, Project 20380 corvettes, Project 22350 frigates, and Project 885 Yasen-class submarines, among other platforms. 

The K-560 Severodvinsk is a Yasen-class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine of the Russian NavyThe Yasen-class nuclear submarines will be armed with land-attack cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine missiles including the P-800 Oniks SLCM, Kalibr family SLCM or 3M51 SLCM. Kalibr-PL has several variants including the 3M54K (terminal-supersonic) and 3M54K1 (subsonic) anti-ship, 91R1 anti-submarine, and the 3M14K land-attack variant. The submarine will be also able to fire hypersonic 3M22 Zircon cruise missiles. Each submarine can carry 32 Kalibr or 24 Oniks, according to Russian military sources, the submarine will be able to carry 40 Kalibr and 32 Oniks cruise missiles which are stored in eight (ten for 855M) vertical launchers. Additional missiles may be carried in the torpedo room at the expense of torpedoes. and the lead vessel of this class.  

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