3M22 Tzirkon hypersonic missile tested from Severodvinsk nuclear submarine

While the test campaign of the Tzirkon 3M22 hypersonic anti-ship missile was crowned with success in September with the 10th successful fire from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov after a campaign started in February 2020, the Russian authorities had announced that testing of the new missile from submarines would begin in October. It will hardly have been necessary to be patient since on October 4, the Russian Navy announced that it had carried out the first two shots of this test phase, both from the nuclear missile submarine Severodvinsk, first unit of the Iassen class of project 885, entered service in 2013. According to the press release from the Russian authorities, a first shot was fired on the surface, then a second would have taken place in diving to an immersion of 40 meters, the two shots having resulted in a success, vis-à-vis the elements tested. This double test, which was held just a few weeks after the last validation test of the missile in its surface-to-surface version, demonstrates great confidence not only by engineers but also by Russian military authorities in their new missile, and suggests that the test campaign on board submarines could be quickly carried out. As for the first submersibles equipped with these missiles, they could sail well as early as 2022.

On the other hand, it is very likely that, at least initially, only the Severodvinsk of the Iassen-class, the two submarines of the Iassen-M class which will be in service in 2022, Kazan and the Novosibirsk, and the nuclear missile submarine Orel of the Antei-AM class, could be equipped with it, being the only ones to have the vertical launch system capable of accommodating the P800 Oniks missile or the 3M54K1 / 2 Kalibr missile, missiles which served as the basis of compatibility for the design of the Tzirkon. Subsequently, the Antei class submarines which will be progressively modernized like the Orel to the 949AM standard, and which will have seen the 24 silos for P700 Granit missiles replaced by 72 silos for P800 and 3M54 missiles, will also be able to use the 3M22 Tzirkon, such as the Irkutsk and Chelyabinsk submarines currently being modernized at the Zvesda shipyards. On the other hand, nothing indicates that it is planned to date to launch the missile horizontally like the 3M54 / E missiles that can equip the submarines with conventional propulsion project 636 and 636.3 improved Kilo.

As the first unit of the modernized version of the 885M Iassen project, the Kazan will also be able to use the new 3M22 Tzirkon hypersonic anti-ship missile alongside the P800 Oniks and 3M54K Kalibr missiles which are already fitted to it.

Like the missiles that will equip certain Russian Navy surface units from 2022, like the news of the Admiral Gorshkov class, the entry into service of the medium-changing version of the hypersonic anti-ship missile 3M22 will pose serious difficulties for the Western navies, in particular in securing a possible sea route between the States. United and Europe in times of tension. Given to be able to evolve at speeds reaching Mach 8, and a range of nearly 1000 km (not demonstrated to date, the maximum tested range being 350 km), the 3M22 Tzirkon missile can redraw on its own a part of the balance of naval power in the North Atlantic.


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