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Hypersonic missile Zircon: Features and dangers of Russian weapon

Hypersonic missile Zircon: Features and dangers of Russian weapon Photo: (Russian media)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

Russian troops are using Zircon hypersonic missiles in their war against Ukraine. In particular, their use on the territory of Ukraine was confirmed by dictator Putin himself at the end of last month.

To learn more about the features of the Zircon missile and its use in Russia's war against Ukraine, read the report by RBC-Ukraine.

Sources used: Defense Express military portal,

The ZM22 Zircon is one of the Kremlin's little-known projects to create hypersonic weapons.

The missile was developed and manufactured by the Research and Production Association of Mechanical Engineering (RPA Mashinostroitelstvo, which is part of the Tactical Missiles Corporation) in Reutov, Moscow Region.

It is claimed by the manufacturers to be a promising anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile with a hypersonic air-jet propulsion system.

Zircon hypersonic missiles can also be effective against stationary fortified objects. Little information is currently available about this missile, as the enemy keeps its development and modification stages secret.

Missile launches

Development of the missile began in 2011. In January 2020, it was launched from the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov and hit a coastal target 500 kilometers away.

The Zircon missiles were planned to be launched from 3C-14 universal vertical launchers on warships, submarines, and mobile coastal missile launchers.

Based on Russian sources, it is also most likely that the Bastion mobile coastal missile system was adapted for its launch, and/or a launch silo was installed at the Object-100 stationary battery near Balaklava in occupied Crimea.

Missile characteristics:

  • Range - almost 600-1000 (up to 1500) kilometers;
  • Flight altitude - 30-40 kilometers;
  • Flight speed - up to 8-9 Mach;
  • Weight of the warhead - 300 (up to 400) kilograms;
  • Length - 8-10 meters.

It is assumed that the Zircon is a two-stage missile, the first stage of which is equipped with a solid rocket engine, and the second stage is equipped with a direct-flow air-jet engine.

Targets for destruction

The missile is targeted from a satellite or reconnaissance aircraft.

Zircon attacks in Ukraine

The media reported that Russia could have used the ZM22 Zirkon anti-ship hypersonic missile during the missile attack on the morning of February 7.

This is confirmed by images of the wreckage posted on social media. In particular, one of the photos shows the marking 3M22 on the wreckage. This inscription corresponds to the marking of this particular missile, which, along with the Russian Kh-47 Kinzhal, is also called Putin's so-called Wunderwaffe.

The Russian missile attack was aimed mainly at Kyiv, although Mykolaiv and Lviv region also came under fire.

It should also be noted that Putin confirmed the Zircon anti-ship strikes when speaking about the Russian-Ukrainian war in his speech at the end of last month.

Read more about the Zircon missile and whether the Russians could have attacked Kyiv with it in RBC-Ukraine's report.