Russia Claims It Has Successfully Fired a Hypersonic Missile From a Submarine

Ameya Paleja
The nuclear submarine Severodvinsk.Russian Defense Ministry/TASS

The Russian military successfully completed the second launch of its hypersonic missile Tsirkon, this time from a submarine, a press release from Russian news agency Tass said. Last week, North Korea claimed to have successfully tested its hypersonic missile as well.

Traveling at speeds multiple times the speed of sound, hypersonic missiles are being touted as the ultimate weapon as they can be launched rapidly and their trajectory can be modified during flight. Offering, an option of a warhead, the missile can also serve as a kinetic weapon and cause damage by its projectile alone. 

Earlier in July this year, Russia claimed to have successfully tested its hypersonic cruise missile. On that occasion, the missile was fired from its frigate, Admiral Grigorovich. The recent firing test was conducted from the nuclear-powered submarine, The Severodvinsk, the press release said. 

While the details of the test were not revealed, the Ministry of Defense said that the missile was aimed at a "conventional naval target" in the Sea of Barents. Data from the test suggested that the flight course followed the specified parameters and the target was hit. 

The press release also said that a firing test was conducted in the morning, where the Tsirkon was fired when the submarine was at the surface. A comment attributed to the Russian Defense Ministry further elaborated on a second launch during which the submarine was reported to be at depth of 131 feet (40 m).  

"A second test launch of a hypersonic cruise missile Tsirkon was carried out by the crew of the nuclear-powered submarine The Severodvinsk for the first time beneath the sea surface from a depth of 40 meters in the White Sea at a target in the Barents Sea. According to the objective monitoring means, the missile's flight from the moment of surfacing and to hitting the target totally matched the expected parameters," the Defense Ministry said.

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The press release also reiterated Russian President Vladimir Putin's comment that Tsirkon missiles with Mach 9 speeds and a range of 620 miles (1000 km) would enter duty soon. The contract for the missiles has been concluded and is expected to be fulfilled by 2025, the press release said.

After much delays to its hypersonic missile program, the U.S. military recently completed a trial of its hypersonic cruise missile.