Russia tested a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile, which hit a ground target off the shore of the Barents Sea at a range of more than 350 kilometers (217 miles).
According to Admiral Gorshkov, the missile was launched from a ship in the White Sea. In a speech made in March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that hypersonic missiles were part of a new generation of Russian weaponry that could reach nearly any place on the globe while avoiding the US-built missile shield.
Russia's nuclear weapon development
The Admiral Gorshkov warship was seen launching a cruise missile at a target on the Barents Seashore in northern Russia, according to footage released by the Russian defense ministry. In a state of the nation speech in February 2019, Putin disclosed the new weapon's development, claiming it could kill targets at sea and on land with a range of 1,000 kilometers and a speed of Mach 9.
The defense ministry has stated that the Zircon would be installed on both warships and submarines, SCMP reported. In October last year, the missile underwent numerous recent tests, with Putin describing one of them as a great event not just in the life of military forces but for all of Russia.
The Sarmat intercontinental missiles and the Burevestnik cruise missiles are two weapons that Russia has boasted of creating to bypass existing defense systems. Western experts have connected a catastrophic incident at a test facility in northern Russia in 2019 - which resulted in a significant increase in local radiation levels - to Putin's 2018 announcement of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.
The Zircon will be tested from submarines and on land soon. The missile is expected to enter service next year, with the Admiral Golovko frigate serving as the first to fire it.
How Putin's aim to improve Russia's missiles threaten other countries
According to The Sun, the missile's main purpose is to destroy enemy ships, and sources claim that its maximum range is between 188 and 620 miles. However, there are unsubstantiated rumors that it has a real range of 1,200 miles.
The design and development of the missile system took place in complete secrecy. Foreign spies have attempted to steal its secrets, according to Putin. It is one of a handful of hypersonic missiles Russia is deploying, including the 188-tonne Sarmat, often known as Satan-2 in the West and the largest beast in Russia's nuclear arsenal, which is set to go into service next year after testing in the autumn.
The first Zircon test launch of the missile from the Gorshkov took place in early October and was viewed as Putin's 68th birthday present. In November and December, there were further test launches. In March, the missile was launched four times from the Admiral Gorshkov ship in the Arctic, and military officials stated each time it "struck the bullseye."
The threat of nuclear Armageddon was more frightening, but also more obvious, during the Cold War. Landing a nuclear bomb on top of the opposing superpower's nuclear missiles means destroying them in their armored silos. However, a new class of fast, stealthy, difficult-to-defeat conventional weapons, like hypersonic cruise missiles capable of speeds exceeding Mach 5, are more than simply destructive combat weapons. They highlight the possibility of a surprise attack on an opponent's nuclear strike force with non-nuclear weapons, as per National Interest.
According to arms control expert James Acton, co-director of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace's Nuclear Policy Program, these new conventional weapons increase the chances of nuclear war. Late last year, Acton co-authored a report on nuclear entanglement with Russian and Chinese experts.