The Russian military will test-fire a new missile from a submarine.
A source told TASS Russian News Agency on March 11, 2020, that the Project 885 Yasen-class submarine Severodvinsk will conduct test launches of the Zircon hypersonic missile. The source stated, “As part of the continued state trials of the Tsirkon shipborne missile system, the hypersonic missile’s firings are planned from the submerged position from the submarine Severodvinsk.”
Test-firing of the missile from a surface vessel, the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov, began in January of this year, sources revealed to TASS last month.
At least “3-4 firings from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov will be conducted” before the missile will be fired from Severodvinsk, TASS’ source said.
TASS reported that the Zircon was initially to be fired from Kazan, first submarine of an updated Yasen design, but that submarine’s ‘longer-than-expected trials’ prompted a change to the Severodvinsk. Kazan‘s entrance to service has been delayed multiple times, and the vessel is now scheduled to be commissioned before the end of 2020.
Moving to test-firings from naval vessels marks a milestone in the development of Zircon. Then-Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin announced the development of the missile in early 2011 and, four years later, the missile was reportedly in flight testing. From 2015 to 2018, 10 launches were carried out, though these were not from naval vessels.
Once Zircon is declared ready for service, Russia will integrate the missile onto new-build vessels as well as a number of existing ships and submarines in its fleets. TASS reported that the ZS-14 universal launching system, used for Zircon, has been installed on Project 22350 frigates, Project 20380 corvettes, and Project 885 submarines.