Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ukraine uncovers secrets of Russia’s new hypersonic missile

Ukrainian analysts have unveiled the classified specs of Russia’s shadowy hypersonic cruise missile, the 3M22 Zircon, intercepted by US-made missile defense systems over Kyiv, on March 25.

An intelligence document obtained by Defense Express said that experts examining remnants of the intercepted missiles concluded that Russia has indeed developed a hypersonic ramjet engine for the Zircon. Unlike the Kh-47 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile, the Zircon maintains sustained hypersonic speeds, marking a significant advancement in Russian missile technology.

The launch sequence of the Zircon involves an initial “mortar” launch followed by the activation of a booster stage, propelling the missile to high altitudes and achieving hypersonic velocities. During its flight at altitudes of several tens of kilometers, the Zircon attains a constant speed of up to 5.5 Mach, mitigating thermal stress in the rarefied atmosphere.


Analysis of the Zircon’s warhead revealed an unexpected fact: its warhead weight, estimated at approximately 100-150 kg with up to 40 kg of explosive material, is significantly lower than other anti-ship missiles. This raises questions about its efficacy against larger naval vessels, like destroyers or aircraft carriers.

Considering production rates, the Zircon’s cost may soar to a dozen million, presenting challenges for mass deployment. Moreover, its resource-intensive development phase suggests limited production capacity, potentially ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred units annually.

In contrast to propaganda claims, the Zircon’s suitability for its intended purpose, targeting large warships and aircraft carriers, remains uncertain. The Zircon’s complexity and higher resource demands may further reduce production rates, underscoring the challenges facing its deployment.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more