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Ghost missile: Ukraine's ex-Navy Deputy Chief analyzes Russian 'Zircon'

15 February, 2024 Thursday
16:10

Strategic expert Andriy Ryzhenko, a retired Navy captain and former deputy chief of staff for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, shared insights on the capabilities of the Russian Zircon missile

He shared the insights an interview on Espreso TV.

"Zircon is like a ghost missile, surrounded by a lot of hype and self-promotion among domestic audience. It was test-fired from the newest Admiral Gorshkov frigate during state testing in Russia last year, and this frigate is set to be deployed in the Northern Fleet," Ryzhenko stated.

Explaining the uniqueness of the Zircon missile, Ryzhenko mentioned its transport container that conveniently fits under a launcher, such as on an Admiral Grigorovich type frigate – the same type currently engaged in firing at Ukraine. 

He highlighted the adaptability of these missiles, stating, "They can be loaded onto existing ships and Buyan-class corvettes, as well as these frigates, without any restrictions. Allegedly, the missile boasts a very high speed, making it challenging for air defense systems to intercept. However, the actual effectiveness and quantity of these missiles remain uncertain. Two alleged launches were discovered in Ukraine - in Zaporizhzhia and Kyiv. These are single instances, and the overall number and true effectiveness of these missiles are unknown."

Ryzhenko concluded that while the Zircon is a Russian showpiece, its actual threat may not be as severe.

For reference: The 3M22 Zircon is an anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile officially adopted in January 2023. It is claimed to have a range of 600-1500 km, a speed of up to Mach 8-9, a warhead weighing about 300-400 kg, and a length of 8-10 m.

Background

On February 7, Russia launched cruise missiles and attack drones at Ukraine, causing casualties and damage. In Kyiv and surrounding areas, 4 people were killed, and over 40 injured, including a pregnant woman. The attack damaged critical infrastructure, leaving 355 residential buildings without heating due to the disruption of the heat supply main and two high-voltage lines.

Russia's assault on Ukraine on February 7 involved 64 air targets, with an estimated expenditure of at least $423 million.

The Kyiv Research Institute of Forensic Expertise has confirmed that on that day, Russia utilized the 3M22 Zircon anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile in its attack on Ukraine.

During the offensive, Russia showcased its hypersonic capabilities by deploying the Zircon missile complex on February 7. The intent appears to be a demonstration of Russia's military prowess.

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