The Russian Navy’s new Admiral Gorshkov multi-role frigate, armed with the fearsome Zircon hypersonic missile, has set off on a world-spanning cruise which will bring it close to UK waters, Opera News has reported.
The Russian missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov has begun a world-spanning shakedown cruise
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu has announced a provocative sea trial of the Russian Navy’s new Admiral Gorshkov multi-role frigate.
“Today, frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov with Zircon hypersonic missiles on board is embarking on a long-range sea voyage across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea,” Shoigu said on Wednesday, January 4.
The frigate’s sea trials, which will take it past UK territorial waters, are said to be “focused on countering Russia’s threats, maintaining regional peace, and stability together with friendly countries,” he said.
The state-of-the-art warship’s exact route and itinerary have not been made public.
Putin has bragged that the Zircon is ‘unstoppable’
While the first phase of the ship’s trials focused on its speed and manoeuvrability, this new round of testing is designed to bring the frigate’s control systems, artillery, anti-aircraft missile systems, communication and electronic warfare equipment up to combat readiness, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.
The patrol is of particular interest to defence analysts because the Admiral Gorshkov is equipped with the Zircon hypersonic missile, an “unstoppable” weapon capable of reaching speeds in excess of Mach 9.
The missile – sometimes translated as Tsirkon – can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads over a range of around 620 miles, but the 30-foot projectile travelling at nine times the speed of sound could potentially do a huge amount of damage without any warhead at all.
The new class of frigate is set to become the spearhead of Russia’s surface navy
“The Zircon is the world’s first hypersonic cruise missile capable of long-range aerodynamic flight with manoeuvring in the atmosphere using the thrust of its own engine,” the Russian Ministry of Defence boasted.
“It reaches a maximum speed of nine sound speeds and a maximum firing range of 1,000 kilometres,” adding that the weapon is “capable of destroying both surface [ships] and ground targets.”
Russian leader Vladimir Putin claims the Zircon-equipped frigate has no equal anywhere in the world.
The crew of the multi-purpose frigate is ‘ready to perform combat service tasks,’ Captain of the first rank Igor Krokhmal reported.
“It has no analogues in any country in the world,” Putin has said, adding: “I am sure that such powerful weapons will reliably protect Russia from potential external threats and will help ensure the national interests of our country.
“We will continue to develop the combat potential of the Armed Forces, make advanced models of weapons and equipment that will guard Russia’s security in the coming decades. This is a promising weapon.”
The ship’s captain, Igor Krokhmal, says his crew is “ready to perform combat service tasks”.
“The ship has gone through a full cycle of preparations,” he added. “The ship has been loaded with ammunition for missiles of the Zirkon, Caliber complexes, air defense systems, torpedo weapons and artillery.”