The Russian Defense Ministry announced on July 19, 2021, it had successfully test-fired a 3M22 Zircon (also spelled Tsirkon) hypersonic cruise missile. The weapon fired from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate hit a ground target on the coast of the Barents Sea, traveling over 350 kilometers (217 miles) and reaching a top speed of nearly Mach 7 (8,643 kilometers per hour or 5,370 miles per hour).
“According to live monitoring data, the Zircon missile successfully hit a target directly at a range of over 350 kilometers,” the Ministry said in a statement quoted by Interfax. “During the test, the tactical and technical characteristics were confirmed.”
The Zircon should eventually equip submarines and surface ships of the Russian Navy.
Hypersonic weapons are currently a priority of the Russian military-industrial complex. In a presidential address in 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented an array of hypersonic weapons that included the land-based Zircon hypersonic.
Along with China, Russia has been at the forefront of hypersonic weapon development. In parallel with the Zircon, the Russian Defense Ministry is also testing a nuclear-capable air-launched hypersonic missile called the Kinzhal. In late June 2021, Russian MiG-31K fighter jets that can be equipped with Kinzhal missiles were deployed at Khmeimim airbase, in Syria.