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Putin brags of hypersonic nukes that ‘can locate any enemy and inflict inevitable strike’

A 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile launches from the Russian Navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov, July 19, 2021. (Ministry of Defense of Russia/Released
July 27, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about Russia’s nuclear-capable hypersonic weapons on Sunday during a large-scale parade for the Russian Navy in his hometown of St. Petersburg.

Putin said, “Russia, in the shortest possible time, took its rightful place among the leading maritime powers, went through a colossal path of development from a modest Petrovsky boat to powerful ships of the ocean zone and nuclear-powered missile submarines, acquired effective long-range and short-range naval aviation, reliable coastal defense systems and the latest hypersonic high-precision weapons systems that still have no analogs in the world, which we are constantly and successfully improving.”

“Today, the Russian Navy has everything it needs to guarantee the protection of our native country and our national interests,” Putin continued. “We are able to detect any underwater, surface, air enemy and inflict an inevitable strike on him, if necessary.”

Putin’s praise for Russia’s hypersonic weapons, which he said “have no analogs,” came a week after the Russian Navy completed the latest test of its hypersonic Zircon missile, which the Russian military said reached seven times the speed of sound (Mach 7), about 5,370 miles per hour.

The 3M22 Zircon missile, or Tsirkon, is a scramjet-powered anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile that Russia intends to reach Mach 9 speeds, about 6905 miles per hour. The missile is reportedly capable of maneuvering in flight to help it avoid interception.

In 2018, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned that the U.S. was lagging behind Russia and China in the pursuit of hypersonic weapons. In March 2020, the U.S. successfully tested its common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB), being developed as part of the U.S. efforts to counter other hypersonic weapons. The U.S. hypersonic missile achieved speeds of about Mach 5, about 3,836 miles per hour.

Putin’s remarks came during the main parade event for Russia’s Navy Day celebrations, which featured about 4,000 sailors, more than 50 ships, boats and submarines, and 48 Russian Navy airplanes and helicopters, according to the Kremlin. The missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov, the frigate Admiral Kasatonov, the large anti-submarine ship Vice-Admiral Kulakov, the corvettes “Thundering” and “Stoyky”, the large landing ships “Pyotr Morgunov” and “Minsk” and the mine defense ships “Alexander Obukhov” and “Vladimir Emelyanov” were among the warships in attendance. The parade also saw the first public presentation of a new strategic missile submarine, the Knyaz Vladimir.

The Russian Navy parade comes a month after Putin accused the U.S. and the United Kingdom of “provocation” in the Black Sea after the British warship HMS Defender transited the Black Sea, triggering a Russian military response. The Russian military said it fired warning shots towards the HMS Defender and dropped bombs near the British warship to warn it off.