Russia will complete sea launch tests on its deadly Zircon hypersonic missile “by the end of the summer”, informed sources say.
Glitches, however, have emerged with the new fourth-generation submarines – the most “dangerous and elusive” in the world – which are due to carry the devastating weapon, it is reported.
Russia’s newest submarine – the Yasen-M-class Kazan – went into service this month yet a new report carried by official news agency TASS suggests it is noisier than its latest rivals from Britain, the US and France, while also lacking torpedo protection against an enemy.
The Zircon – or Tsirkon – is a 6,100 mph “unstoppable” cruise missile that is on track to go into service next year.
Vladimir Putin sees the lethal Mach 8 Zircon as his weapon of choice to target American cities in the event of a nuclear conflict, it is claimed.
"Tests of the missile system with the Zircon hypersonic missile for surface ships are planned to be completed by the end of the summer,” said an informed source, according to Sputnik.
“The tests will be conducted from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate.
“Several firings at both sea and ground targets are planned.”
The Gorshkov has been moved to secret White Sea naval port Severodvinsk ahead of the final tests, say reports.
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Videos show Zircon tests have been made from the ship in the past year which the Russians say have been successful, though few details have emerged.
Meanwhile, boasts about the new ultramodern Kursk submarine and its Yasen-M-class successors – also known as project 885-M – have been questioned.
Manufacturer Sevmash's General Director Mikhail Budnichenko said the Kazan is “a dangerous hunter” with “completely new qualities” including weapon systems, manoeuvrability, and “improved tactical-technical characteristics”.
“These are the 21st century ships,” he said.
“Once in service, they will be the most elusive and dangerous nuclear submarines.
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“And the Russian Navy will have not one, but a whole series of such ships.”
Yet TASS highlighted its “weak point”, citing a report in gazeta.ruwhich quoted military expert Maxim Klimov.
"The submarines have no proper anti-torpedo protection,” reported TASS.
“The Kazan SSGN does not have a water jet, which is characteristic of all modern nuclear submarines.
“It means project 885M lags behind modern US, UK, and French nuclear submarines in low-noise speed.”
Russia also “lags behind” in “detection technologies, including multi-positional with low-frequency scanning”.
Klimov told gazeta the hypersonic Zircon and other modern missiles are “very good indeed” but suggested the new submarines due to carry the weapons were vulnerable to enemy attack.
“A submarine needs to make its way to the (missile) launch site first,” he said.
“And this is where our submarines are having serious problems.”
Dmitry Kiselyov, presenter of Russia’s main weekly TV news show Vesti Nedeli, showed on screen a map of the US identifying targets he claimed the Kremlin would want to hit in a nuclear war.
Kiselyov, seen as a top Putin propagandist, said the Zircon missile could hit the targets in less than five minutes.
Putin has claimed that the West was seeking to steal secrets relating to Zircon and other state-of-the-art Russian weapons such as the Avangard.
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