- Russia has constructed a Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, according to reports
- The weapon cannot be stopped by the Navy’s current defenses, experts say
- Zircon could render Navy’s two new £6.2billion aircraft carriers useless
- Missile is being tested and could be fitted to Russian cruisers by 2022
Russia has built a hypersonic missile capable of destroying an aircraft carrier with a single impact, it has been reported.
Kremlin chiefs claim to have constructed a Zircon cruise missile which travels between 3,800mph and 4,600mph – five to six times the speed of sound.
“In 2017, Russia will continue the tests of Zircon missiles, when a missile would be launched from a sea-based platform,” the source told the news agency.”
Hypersound is a speed faster than Mach 5. Mach 1 number corresponds to the speed of sound – about 300 meters per second, or 1,224 km/h.
The Zircon missile was designed for the Russian Navy at NPO Machine Building (Reutov, Moscow region). The missile technology for the new missile is based on the principle of the so-called hypersonic engine. The company also develops advanced warheads for intercontinental ballistic missiles known as “Object 4202.”
According to experts, the range of the Zircon missile will be comparable to that of the Onyx missile – about 500 km, whereas the speed of the new missile is said to reach Mach 5 or six.
Zircon missiles can be used as armament for surface warships and nuclear-powered submarines, as well as aircraft and coastal mobile missile systems.
It is believed that Onyx and Zircon missiles are designed to implement elements of the concept of strategic non-nuclear deterrence.
Last year, it was reported that Zircon missiles would be used on board the Peter the Great heavy cruiser, as well as prospective fifth-generation multipurpose nuclear submarines known as Husky.
In 2017, Russia also plans to start flight tests of the state-of-the-art liquid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile RS-28 Sarmat.
According to experts’ estimates, ICBMs of such capacity will be able to contain USA’s plans for the deployment of the global missile defense system.
It is worthy of note that Zircon missile tests were originally scheduled for 2018. However, a source in the Russian defense industry told Interfax that the timing may change for 2017.
Experts warn the ‘unstoppable’ projectiles could spell disaster for the Navy’s new £6.2billion aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Russia has reportedly built a Zircon hypersonic missile which is capable of traveling up to six times the speed of sound, making it ‘unstoppable’
The Zircon is capable of traveling twice as fast as the Royal Navy’s Sea Ceptor missile (pictured) which would be responsible for shooting it down
Current Navy anti-missile defenses are only equipped to shoot down projectiles traveling 2,300mph, meaning they would be useless against the Zicron.
This would force aircraft carriers to anchor outside of their estimated 500 mile range
That would make it impossible for the carrier’s jets and helicopters to reach their target, carry out their mission, and return without running out of fuel – effectively rendering them useless.
Pete Sandeman, a naval expert, told the Sunday People: ‘Defence against hypersonic missiles presents a huge challenge to surface ships.
‘There is so little time to react that even if detected, existing defences may be entirely inadequate.
‘Even if the missile is broken up or detonated by close-in weapons, the debris has so much kinetic energy that the ship may still be badly damaged.’
The new weapon has entered the testing phase, according to reports, and could be fitted to Russian carrier Pyotr Velikiy by 2022
The weapon entered testing earlier this year, and could be fitted to nuclear-powered cruiser Pyotr Velikiy as soon as 2018, Russian state media reports.
It can be fired from land, sea and submarines carrying payloads ranging from high explosive to nuclear.
The Zicron uses Scramjet technology which mixes fuel with air and allows it to burn at hypersonic speeds.
That means the projectile can travel at astonishing speeds – covering 155 miles in 2.5 minutes, which is faster than a sniper’s bullet.
The setback is just the latest in a long line of problems with the Royal Navy’s new carriers after a report earlier this month found they were beset with technical issues, facing delays and could go over-budget.
ZIRCON MISSILE Role: Offensive, capable of carrying explosive or nuclear payloads Speed: 3,800mph to 4,600mph Range: Up to 500 miles Status: In testing, deployed by 2022
SEA CEPTOR MISSILE Role: Defensive, designed to take out incoming missiles Speed: 700mph to 2,300mph Range: 15 miles Status: In use by the Royal Navy