3M22 Zircon

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3M22 Zircon
TypeAnti-ship hypersonic cruise missile
Air-launched cruise missile
Submarine-launched cruise missile
Land-attack missile
Place of originRussia
Service history
In serviceIn production
Used byRussia
Production history
DesignerNPO Mashinostroyeniya
Length8–10 m

Fuel capacity600 miles (970 km)
1,000 km (540 nmi; 620 mi)
SpeedMach 8–Mach 9 (6,090–6,851 mph; 9,800–11,025 km/h; 2,722.3–3,062.6 m/s)[1][2]
Aircraft, submarines, ships, and ground-based TEL systems

The 3M22 Zircon[3][4] also spelled as 3M22 Tsirkon (Russian: Циркон, NATO reporting name: SS-N-33)[5] is a scramjet powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile developed by Russia.[6][7]

Design and development[edit]

The 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 (Deciling) in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.[7][8] The missile represents a further development of the HELA (Hypersonic Experimental Flying Vehicle) developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya[9] that was on display at the MAKS Air Show in 1995.

The Zircon'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;[10] average range is around 400–450 km (250–280 mi; 220–240 nmi).[11] According to state-owned media, the longest range is 540 nmi (620 mi; 1,000 km) and for this purpose a new fuel was created.[12][13][14]

The Zircon can travel at a speed of Mach 5–Mach 6 (3,806–4,567 mph; 6,125–7,350 km/h; 1,701.5–2,041.7 m/s). Such high speeds have led to concerns that it could penetrate existing naval defense systems; the Royal Navy's Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missile is only capable of intercepting targets flying up to Mach 3.[15][16][17]

The missile will be introduced with the Kirov-class battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov after the completion of its currently undergoing refit, following by the Pyotr Velikiy. The ships will have their P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles replaced with 3S-14 vertical launch systems capable of carrying the Oniks, Kalibr and Zircon missiles; each battlecruiser will be equipped with 72 such missiles.[18] After the upgrade, the battlecruisers can carry 40–80 anti-ship missiles of different types.[19] Other surface platforms of the Russian Navy includes the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates with possibility to carry 8 Zircon missiles while the number of missiles raises to 16 when carried by the Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates.[20][21] The missile could be used also by the planned Lider-class destroyer as well as by other current or planned military platforms including the Yasen-class, Husky-class attack submarines[20] and the Tu-160M2, Tupolev PAK DA strategic bombers.

In flight, the missile is completely covered by a plasma cloud. This cloud absorbs any radio waves and makes the missile invisible to radar (plasma stealth).[18][21] Missiles exchange information in flight and can be controlled by commands if necessary.[22]

In November 2017, according to Colonel General Viktor Bondarev the Zircon missile is already deployed in the Russian Armed Forces.[23]

On 20 February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated the missile is capable to accelerate up to Mach 9 and destroy both sea-going and land targets within 1,000 km (540 nmi; 620 mi) distance.[2]

Flight testing[edit]

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 the Zircon had reached a speed of Mach 8 (6,090 mph; 9,800 km/h; 2,722.3 m/s) during a flight test.[24]

The missile was again test-fired on 3 June 2017, almost a year earlier than had been announced by Russian officials.[25]

The latest flight test of the missile reportedly occurred on 10 December 2018 during which the missile demonstrated to attain a speed of Mach 8.[1]


A version for export should have its range limited under 300 km in compliance with the MTCR[10] or up to 400 km.[12]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Russia again successfully tests ship-based hypersonic missile — which will likely be ready for combat by 2022". cnbc.com. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Putin Reveals Zircon Mach 9 Missile Specification". Aviation International News. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  3. ^ http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/focus-analysis/naval-technology/3810-analysis-3k22-and-3m22-zircon-the-next-generation-hypersonic-missile-of-the-russian-navy.html
  4. ^ https://sputniknews.com/politics/201708221056695530-russia-hypersonic-missiles/
  6. ^ "Russia develops hypersonic 4,600 mph Zircon missile". Fox News. 1 April 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Эксперт рассказал о суперспособности ракеты "Циркон" преодолеть системы ПРО". РЕН ТВ. 15 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Российские ракеты «Циркон» делают американский «Джеральд Форд» «авианедоносцем».  | Блог Малюта | КОНТ". cont.ws.
  9. ^ Ivanov, Yuri (17 April 2017). "Гиперзвуковая ракета "Циркон" ослабит позиции США" (in Russian). ОРУЖИЕ РОССИИ. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  10. ^ a b Russia and India Test Hypersonic and Supersonic Missiles - Ainonline.com, 25 April 2017
  11. ^ Dave Majumdar (2016-04-22). "Russia's Lethal Hypersonic Zirkon Cruise Missile to Enter Production". nationalinterest.org. The National Interest Blog. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  12. ^ a b "Для гиперзвуковых крылатых ракет в России создано принципиально новое топливо". vesti.ru. Вести. 2017-05-19. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  13. ^ "Российские ракеты «Циркон» делают американский «Джеральд Форд» «авианедоносцем». | Блог Малюта | КОНТ". Cont.ws. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  14. ^ "Ракеты «Циркон» окончательно определили технологическое превосходство России над США". ruspolitica.ru. Русская политика. 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  15. ^ Mizokami, Kyle (2016-04-26). "Russia's Putting Hypersonic Missiles on Its Battlecruisers". Popularmechanics.com. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  16. ^ Caroline Mortimer. "Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers cannot stop Russia's new hypersonic Zirkon missiles". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  17. ^ Britain Admits that Russian Missiles Can Blow Its New Aircraft Carriers Out of the Water - Nationalinterest.org, 30 April 2017
  18. ^ a b Виктория Фоменко (2016-05-17). "Опаснее «Калибра»: Россия начала испытание гиперзвуковой ракеты «Циркон» - Газета Труд". trud.ru. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  19. ^ "Начались испытания гиперзвуковой ракеты "Циркон"". rg.ru. 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  20. ^ a b "Российская ракета "Циркон" достигла восьми скоростей звука". rg.ru. 2017-04-15. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  21. ^ a b "В России успешно провели испытания новой гиперзвуковой ракеты «Циркон», не имеющей аналогов в мире". 1tv.ru. 2017-05-21. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  22. ^ "«Циркон» выходит на рабочую скорость". vz.ru. 2017-04-17. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  23. ^ "Бондарев: ВС РФ имеют гиперзвуковые ракеты "Циркон" и ракеты донного базирования "Скиф"". TASS. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Russia's hypersonic Zircon anti-ship missile reaches eight times speed of sound". TASS. 15 April 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  25. ^ Marsden, Harriet (3 June 2017). "New Russian missile 'makes Western defences obselete'". The Independent. Retrieved 5 June 2017.

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