Vladimir Putin announces launch of ship armed with hypersonic nuclear missiles

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Vladimir Putin announces launch of ship armed with hypersonic nuclear missiles
Vladimir Putin announces launch of ship armed with hypersonic nuclear missiles

Vladimir Putin has sent a frigate armed with nuclear-capable hypersonic Zircon missiles capable of flying nine times the speed of sound, on a mission to challenge the West.

The Russian tyrant was seen ordering warship Admiral Gorshkov to sail to the Atlantic and Indian oceans as well as the Mediterranean equipped with one of the world’s most deadly weapons.

Zircon- or Tsirkon - can allegedly fly at Mach 9 or nine times the speed of sound and is intended to arm Russian cruisers, frigates and submarines.

It is one of several hypersonic missiles under development in Russia and could be used against both enemy ships and ground targets.

Putin appeared visibly pleased as he announced “an important, if not momentous, event” as the vessel set sail in a task force from Severomorsk armed with the nuclear-capable missile.

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“The frigate Admiral Gorshkov is embarking on a long sea voyage,” said Putin in a videoconference.

“There is nothing unusual here: it is commonplace, but this time the ship is equipped with the latest hypersonic rocket system Tsirkon [Zircon], which has no match.

Vladimir Putin announces launch of ship armed with hypersonic nuclear missilesPutin ordered that the frigate with Zircon [Tsirkon] nuclear-capable hypersonic missile start military service (MoD Russia/e2w)

"It is a hypersonic sea-based system - [and the vessel has other] latest-generation weapons… As I said, it has no equivalent in any country in the world.

“I am sure that such a powerful weapon will allow us to reliably protect Russia from potential external threats and help ensure our country's national interests.”

Putin continued: “I want to stress that we will continue to develop the combat capabilities of the armed forces and produce promising weapons….

“I would like to wish the ship's crew every success in their service for the good of the Motherland.”

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu also took part in the videoconference.

Earlier TASS state news agency had stated: “It will perform its combat tasks in the Mediterranean Sea, with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles on board.”

Vladimir Putin announces launch of ship armed with hypersonic nuclear missilesThe ship is equipped with the latest hypersonic rocket system (Russian Defence Ministry/TASS)

The frigate had been undergoing scheduled maintenance at Kronstadt Marine Plant.

The new mission is expected to take the Gorshkov past the coast of the British Isles as it heads on a mission during the bloody conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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However, the Russians have not disclosed the exact routing or timings.

Moscow has boasted that the Gorshkov is “the most dangerous enemy of surface ships in the world’s oceans” now it is armed with the new hypersonic missile.

It is also carrying state-of-the-art Kalibr missiles - used against Ukraine - in its armoury.

Vladimir Putin announces launch of ship armed with hypersonic nuclear missilesPutin appeared in a videoconference on Thursday as he announced the vessel was setting sail (Mikhail Klimentyev/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Russian media reports have said Tsirkon [Zircon] tests would be carried out during the voyage without saying at what stage.

The deployment of the sea-fired 6,670 mph missile with a range of some 625 miles follows tests in the Barents Sea.

Oleg Gladkiy, commander of the Russian Northern Fleet's missile vessels, said:”The ship is armed with cruise missiles, including long-range and hypersonic Zirkon missiles.

“Of course this carries a certain responsibility.”

Putin has taken a close interest in the development of the Zircon, a year ago announcing a “flawless” salvo launch involving the new-era missile.

Earlier it was identified by Moscow’s state-controlled TV as Putin’s weapon of choice to wipe out American cities in the event of an atomic conflict.

Putin has hailed “our newest [Zircon] missiles fired from the sea at sea targets, and land targets.

“The tests were carried out successfully, flawlessly. This is a big event for our country, a significant step in improving Russia’s security, in increasing (our) defence capability.”

He said it was in “serial production”, calling the weapon “truly unparalleled … in the world”.

TV Zvezda - a channel owned by the Russian defence ministry - said: “The speed of the Zircon hypersonic missile is so high that it prevents the opponent's air defence system from detecting its impact in time.

“In fact, its launch will be known only after the target has been hit.”

Vladimir Putin announces launch of ship armed with hypersonic nuclear missilesMoscow has boasted that the Gorshkov is 'the most dangerous enemy of surface ships in the world’s oceans' (AFP)

The missile has a “variable trajectory” to avoid detection, viewers were told.

The frigate’s captain Igor Krokhmal has said previously: “No one will see the missile launch or its flight. They will only see when the missile hits the target.

“A surface target, a coastal target. I don't think there will be anything to counter this in the next few years.”

He told Putin today: “The frigate’s crew is ready for military service.

The president said: “I am very glad, congratulations. This was big, big work that finished with the good result we expected. Start completing the tasks.”

The vessel immediately fired a test launch of the Tsirkon [Zircon], Russian sources have said, with a video issued to state media showing the moment of the launch from the Gorshkov in the Barents Sea.

It “successfully hit a target in the White Sea” almost 620 miles away.

The firing was carried out as part of tests of the new hypersonic weapon, said the Russian Defence Ministry.

Will Stewart

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