Thursday, November 30, 2023

With the 3M22 Tzirkon anti-ship missile, the Russian Navy asserts itself in Europe

The upcoming arrival of the 3M22 Tzirkon anti-ship missile aboard Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates and Yassen-M-class submarines has the potential to deeply undermine Western naval supremacy, including near European coasts and lines. vital naval communications for the old continent.

Left fallow for nearly 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the reconstruction of Russian maritime power, as well as the country's military naval industry, is now beginning to benefit from the efforts made by Moscow over the past 10 years. last years.

With the entry into service of the new Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov frigates Project 20385 Gremyashchyi corvettes , Project 636.3 Improved Kilo conventional submarines , and Project 885-M Iassen-M and Project 885-M submarines. 955 Borei-A nuclear-powered , it now has ships that have nothing to envy of their Western counterparts, quite the contrary.

A weapon, whose entry into service is said to be eminent, could well give a more than significant advantage to Russian ships, the 3M22 Tzirkon hypersonic anti-ship missile.

The genesis and performance of the 3M22 Tzirkon anti-ship missile

If public references to the Tzirkon hypersonic anti-ship missile only appeared at the end of 2021, the program which gave birth to it, entrusted to the NPO missile maker Mashinostroyeniya, would be much older, and would have been started at the beginning from the 90s.

It is true that until recently, no one considered the Russian Navy as a major potential adversary, which was struggling, at the end of the 2000s, to maintain a single nuclear ballistic missile submarine, yet the pivot of the country's deterrence, at sea, and the majority of large naval units hardly exceeded 30 days at sea per year.

But the efforts begun in 2012 to modernize the fleet and industrial infrastructure intended to produce and maintain these ships quickly changed the situation. As a result, the number of Russian ships at sea has grown rapidly in recent years.

The 3M22 Tzirkon anti-ship missile conducted its first test in April 2017. Since then, the missile has been tested numerous times, including aboard the Admiral Gorshkov frigate and its 3S14 UKSK silos.
The first test of the 3M22 Tzirkon anti-ship missile took place in April 2017. Since then, the missile has been tested numerous times, including on board the Admiral Gorshkov frigate and its 3S14 UKSK silos.

At the same time, the 3M22 program has reached maturity . Its announced characteristics quickly began to become a real subject of concern in the West, although many, until recently, doubted that a hypersonic missile would be able to strike a moving ship at sea.

Recent tests of the missile, the last of which took place last week paving the way for state qualification tests , showed not only that the Tzirkon was indeed hypersonic, having reached speeds of Mach 7 and even Mach 8, but that its range was indeed substantial (without demonstrating the 1,000 km announced). Above all, it seems capable of hitting moving targets at sea, as well as land targets, with precision.

Why is Tzirkon so difficult to counter?

LOGO meta defense 70 Anti-ship missiles | Defense News | Hypersonic weapons and missiles

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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