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Russia to test fire Tsirkon hypersonic missile from Yasen-class submarine

Author : Franz-Stefan Gady

Source : The Diplomat

Tsirkon is thought to be capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers
16:33, 12 March 2020

Yasen-M submarine
112 Agency

Russia plans to test launch the hypersonic 3M-22 Tsirkon or Zircon anti-ship missile (ASM) from its Project 855 Yasen-class multipurpose nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine (SSN/SSGN) K-329 Severodvinsk, according to a Russian defense industry source.

“As part of the continued state trials of the Tsirkon shipborne missile system, the hypersonic missile’s firings are planned from the submerged position from the submarine Severodvinsk,” the source was quoted as saying on March 11 by the TASS news agency.

The Tsirkon hypersonic ASM is thought to be a variant of the P-800 Onyx ASM. The P-800 has a reported maximum speed of March 2.9 and a maximum range of up to 500 kilometers, while the Tsirkon, powered by a solid-propellant boost engine and supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet), is thought to be capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers. The longer range is reportedly partially due to a new fuel, Detsilin-M, specially designed for hypersonic cruise missiles.

The Tsirkon has previously been test fired the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov from the Barents Sea against a ground target at a distance of 500 kilometers in the Northern Urals in January 2020 and the source added that prior to the launch from the submarine “3-4 firings from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov will be conducted.” The source did not mention a date for the test launch from the Severodvinsk. 

Related: Russia develops prototype of hypersonic missile for Su-57 stealth fighter

Initially, according to the source, the Russian Navy intended to launch the Tsirkon not from the Severodvinsk, but from the service’s first-of-class Project 885-M SSN/SSGN Kazan. However, the trials of the Kazan, launched at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk in March 2017, have been taking longer than expected and the boat is not expected to enter service until the end of this year or 2021. In December 2018, I wrote about the technical characteristics and armament:

"The improved Yasen M-class SSN is reportedly quieter than the lead Yasen-class boat. It is built with low magnetic steel to reduce its magnetic signature. The Yasen M-class SSN is purportedly not equal to the United States Navy’s new Virginia-class attack subs. Rather it is technically on par with older U.S. Seawolf-class SSNs, built by the U.S. Navy from 1989 to 2005, although the underwater top speed of the Russian subs is reportedly much lower than that of U.S. boats.

The Kazan is fitted with eight vertical СМ-346 complex (3Р-14В) silos for submarine-launched cruise missiles as well as 10 torpedo tubes for firing (…) [missiles and torpedoes]. The Severodvinskcan carry up to 40 Kalibr cruise missiles while the second, Kazan, can carry 32. (The Kazan is approximately 10-12 meters shorter than the first boat.)"

The Yasen M-class will eventually carry a mixture of both Kalibr and Tsirkon ASMs.

Related: Russia continues testing its new hypersonic weapons

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