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Russia Test-Fires ‘Tsirkon’ Hypersonic Missile

The latest launch is at least the third test run of the Tsirkon this year. Defense Ministry

The Russian military has test-launched its vaunted Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile for at least the third time this year, the Defense Ministry announced Thursday.

Like the previous test launch held on President Vladimir Putin’s birthday on Oct. 7, a Russian Navy frigate fired the Tsirkon that hit its target in the waters of northwestern Russia, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

A 20-second video of the latest launch released by the Defense Ministry showed the Tsirkon’s night-time launch from the Northern Fleet’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea.

Citing the Defense Ministry, TASS reported that the Tsirkon traveled at a speed of more than Mach 8, or around 10,000 kilometers per hour, and struck its intended target 450 kilometers away in the Barents Sea.

The Defense Ministry had disclosed the same flight parameters on Oct. 7 for the Tsirkon’s earlier test. Previously, the Admiral Gorshkov test-fired the Tsirkon in January from the Barents Sea toward a ground target in the northern Urals over 500 kilometers to the east.

The Tsirkon program began in 2011 and entered the active testing stage in 2015.

Putin unveiled the Tsirkon as part of a new generation of advanced weapons in 2018. He has said the Tsirkon ground- and sea-based hypersonic rocket can fly at nine times the speed of sound and hit underwater and ground targets more than 1,000 kilometers away.

Putin has warned that Russia would be forced to deploy hypersonic nuclear missiles on submarines near U.S. waters in response to arms-control tensions. Washington waved off Putin’s warnings as disingenuous propaganda.

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