The Russian military says its new Zircon – also known as Tsirkon – ballistic missile, capable of speeds up to 6,000 miles per hour, is ready to be deployed aboard warplanes, warships, submarines, and land-based launchers.
Under development for 20 years, the Zircon was designed to defeat today’s anti-missile systems through sheer speed alone.
Designed primarily as an anti-ship missile, it flies 250 miles at speeds of up to 6,138mph, or about Mach 8. Many anti-missile systems only field missiles that can defend against incoming targets traveling Mach 3. Still, existing U.S. and other missile defense systems are built to handle projectiles traveling at that speed.
Also, other experts note that speed alone isn’t enough, but that missiles must be fast and manueverable enough in their terminal phase in order to be effective.
Still, Russia’s Zircon is a noteworthy development.
Hypersonic missiles are at the center of development programs in Russia, the U.S. and China, with Russia appearing to take the early lead. [source]
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