Russia test-fires new hypersonic Zircon missiles from frigate, submarine

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to flex military muscle amid ongoing tensions with Ukraine and the West. [Kremlin pool/EPA/EFE]

Russia test-fired around 10 new Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missiles from a frigate and two more from a submarine, Interfax news agency said on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lauded the weapon as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems.

Putin has called a missile test, conducted last week, “a big event in the country’s life”, adding that this was “a substantial step” in increasing Russia’s defence capabilities.

Some Western experts have questioned how advanced Russia’s new generation of weapons is while recognising that the combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles makes them difficult to track and intercept.

Putin announced an array of new hypersonic weapons in 2018 in one of his most bellicose speeches in years, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield.

Putin says Russian navy to get hypersonic Zircon missiles in 2022

Tests of Russia’s Zircon hypersonic cruise missile are nearing completion and deliveries to the navy will begin in 2022, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday (3 November).

In November, Putin said tests were nearing completion and delivered to the navy would start in 2022. This came following tests that saw one of the missiles launched from a submarine for the first time.

“Now it is especially important to develop and implement the technologies necessary to create new hypersonic weapons systems, high-powered lasers and robotic systems that will be able to effectively counter potential military threats, which means they will further strengthen the security of our country,” Putin said in televised remarks.

He said that in testing, the missile had successfully hit both ground and sea targets when fired from underwater or from surface ships.

Satellite images show Russia building up forces near Ukraine

New satellite images show that Russia has continued to build up its forces in annexed Crimea and near Ukraine in recent weeks while pressing the United States for talks over security guarantees it is seeking.

The tests coming amid growing concerns over the situation in Ukraine. Satellite images published earlier this month show a continued build-up of Russian military muscle in annexed Crimea and near the Ukrainian border over the last few weeks.

The images, released by a private security company, appear to show a base in Crimea packed with armoured vehicles and tanks. Another satellite image taken two weeks prior, shows the base almost empty.

Maxar Technologies, the company that took the images said a new brigade-level unit, comprised of several hundred armoured vehicles that include BMP-series infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, self-propelled artillery and air defence equipment, had arrived at the Russian garrison.

“Over the past month, our high-resolution satellite imagery has observed a number of new Russian deployments in Crimea as well as in several training areas in western Russia along the periphery of the Ukraine border,” Maxar said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the US and Russia are set to hold much-anticipated talks in early January with the topics of Ukraine and European security to feature highly

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