| 3M-22 Zircon|
|Type||Anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile|
Submarine-launched cruise missile
|Place of origin||Russia|
|In service||In production (2022 planned)|
|Used by||Russian Navy|
|Warhead||> 300 HE , > 200 kt tnw nuclear|
|Warhead weight||300-400 kg|
|Propellant||Liquid - "Decilin-M" (Russian: Децилин-М)|
|>1,000 km (540 nmi; 620 mi)|
|Flight altitude||28 km (17 mi)|
|Maximum speed||Mach 8–Mach 9 (6,090–6,851 mph; 9,800–11,025 km/h; 2,722.3–3,062.6 m/s)|
|Submarine, Surface ship,|
Land-based (in development)
The 3M22 Zircon also spelled as 3M22 Tsirkon (Russian: Циркон, NATO reporting name: SS-N-33) is a scramjet powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile currently in testing by Russia.
|Russian MoD Zircon coverage|
The missile represents a further development of the HELA (Hypersonic Experimental Flying Vehicle) developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya that was on display at the 1995 MAKS air show.
Prototypes were test-launched from a Tu-22M3 bomber in 2012–2013. Launches from a ground-based platform followed in 2015, with first success achieved in 2016. In April 2017, it was reported Zircon had reached a speed of Mach 8 (6,090 mph; 9,800 km/h; 2,722.3 m/s) during a flight test. Zircon was again test-fired on 3 June 2017, almost a year earlier than had been announced by Russian officials. In November 2017, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev stated that the missile was already in service. Another flight test reportedly occurred on 10 December 2018, during which the missile demonstrated that it could attain a speed of Mach 8.
On 20 February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the missile is capable of accelerating up to Mach 9 and destroying both sea and land targets within 1,000 km (540 nmi; 620 mi). By the year's end, on 24 December 2019, Putin stated that Zircon's land-based version was in development.
According to the commander in chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov, as of January 2020, Zircon was still in testing phase and despite the overall positive evaluation of the test program, still suffered from the "childhood diseases" (Russian idiom meaning "teething problems"). Modernized frigates are expected to be the first platform to receive the hypersonic missile, and the tests are to be continued in parallel with the Navy's armament with the Kalibr cruise missile. Yevmenov further stated Zircon is expected to enter service "in the coming years". In early January 2020, Zircon was first test-launched from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the Barents Sea, and successfully hit a ground target in the Northern Urals, exceeding the distance of 500 km.
On 7 October 2020, the Russian Chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, stated a Zircon was launched from Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea and successfully hit a sea target in the Barents Sea 450 km (280 mi) away, reportedly reaching a speed of "more than Mach 8" and altitude of 28 km (17 mi).
On 26 November 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the successful test of a missile launched from Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea, hitting a naval target 450 km away in the Barents Sea.
On 11 December 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the successful test of a missile launched from Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea, hitting a ground target 350 km away in the Arkhangelsk Region.
On 19 July 2021, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the successful test of a missile launched from Admiral Gorshkov in the White Sea, hitting a ground target 350 km away on the coast of the Barents Sea. The flight speed reached nearly 7 Mach.
The flight tests of the missile from a coastal mount and a surface ship carrier were reportedly completed as of late September 2021 with over 10 launches performed.
On 4 October 2021, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the successful test of a missile launched from a nuclear submarine for the first time from a surfaced position. The Defense Ministry, which tested firing the Tsirkon missile from a warship in July, said that the nuclear submarine Severodvinsk fired the missile while deployed in the Barents Sea and had hit its chosen target. Low-quality video footage released by the ministry showed the missile shooting upwards from a submarine, its glare lighting up the night sky and illuminating the water's surface. A second submerged launch from a depth of 40 m was reported later the same day. The next day it was reported that the missile’s trials from the submarine have been completed. A Tsirkon hypersonic missile test-launched from the Northern Fleet’s frigate Admiral Gorshkov struck a naval target in the White Sea with a direct hit, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on 18 November 2021. The crew of the Northern Fleet frigate "Admiral of the Soviet Union Fleet Gorshkov", as part of the completion of the cycle of tests of hypersonic missile weapons, fired another Zircon missile on November 29.
Zircon is believed to be a maneuvering, winged hypersonic cruise missile with a lift-generating center body. A booster stage with solid-fuel engines accelerates it to supersonic speeds, after which a scramjet motor with liquid-fuel (Decilin [ru]) (JP-10 Jet fuel) in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.
The missile's range is estimated to be 135 to 270 nautical miles (155 to 311 mi; 250 to 500 km) at low level, and up to 400 nmi (460 mi; 740 km) in a semi-ballistic trajectory; average range is around 400–450 km (250–280 mi; 220–240 nmi). According to Russian media (2017), the longest possible range is 540 nmi (620 mi; 1,000 km) and for this purpose a new fuel was created. Some internet tabloid even claim the range of missile can reach 1,000 - 2,000 km, will depend on the type of target.
Zircon can travel at a speed of Mach 8–Mach 9 (6,090–6,851 mph; 9,800–11,025 km/h; 2,722.3–3,062.6 m/s). This has led to concerns that it could penetrate existing naval defense systems. Zircon exchanges information in flight and can be controlled by commands if necessary.
Zircon will be first deployed with the Kirov-class battlecruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikiy after 2020. The ships will have their P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles replaced with the 3S14 universal VLS cells capable of carrying the Oniks, Kalibr and Zircon anti-ship cruise missiles; each vessel is to be equipped with 72 such missiles. After completion of their refit, the ships could carry 40–80 anti-ship cruise missiles of different types. Other platforms are likely to include Russian Navy's Admiral Grigorovich class and Admiral Gorshkov class frigates, as well as Gremyashchiy class, Buyan class and Karakurt class corvettes, mainly due to the installation of the compatible 3S14 vertical launchers.
There are certain design similarities between Zirkon and BrahMos-II, which have been noted by experts. Some experts have also postulated that the BrahMos-II might be an export version of the Zirkon missile. A version for export should have its range limited under 300 km in compliance with the MTCR, or up to 400 km.