Exercise in the Atlantic: Russian frigate fires Zirkon hypersonic missile using computer simulation

25 Jan 2023 10:46 pm

The crew of the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” conducted an exercise with the hypersonic missile “Zirkon” in the western Atlantic. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the launch was fully in line with expectations. What conclusions should NATO draw from this?

By Oleg Issaichenko

The frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov, operating in areas of the western Atlantic, has conducted a hypersonic missile weapon exercise using computer simulation. This was announced by the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday.

The frigate fired a Zirkon missile at a sea target simulating an enemy combat ship more than 900 kilometers away. In the course of the exercises, the ship’s crew demonstrated a high degree of coherence in action, the Russian military authority emphasized.

According to the ship’s commander, Captain Igor Krochmal, the efficiency of the launch reached the targeted level one, which means that expectations were fully met. The exercise therefore confirmed all the abilities inherent in the complex.

In the second half of February, the “Admiral Gorshkov” is expected to take part in naval exercises by the BRICS countries (Russia, China and South Africa) in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Durban, South Africa, and in neighboring Richards Bay. It was also recalled that at the beginning of January Russian President Vladimir Putin sent the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” with the Zirkon missile system into combat use.

Konstantin Sivkov, professor of military sciences, previously spoke about the properties of the Zirkon rocket. He explained:

“It is a hypersonic weapon, practically invulnerable to anti-aircraft defenses. The land-based system has a range of 1,000-1,500 kilometers. The range of missiles launched from on board the shipis about 800 kilometers. That is, by developing and deploying the missile system, we can engage the enemy without getting within range of their anti-ship missiles ourselves.”

The exercises of the crew of the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” on the use of the hypersonic anti-ship missile Zirkon seriously alarmed the USA and NATO, experts say. Alexander Bartosch, corresponding member of the Academy of Military Sciences, told the newspaper Vsglyad:

“It was an electronic test launch that showed that both the crew and the ship’s technical equipment are fully operational.”

Bartosch added:

“In addition, the hypersonic test in the western Atlantic can be described as a truly unique event. The mere appearance of the ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ in the western Atlantic is a clear signal to our adversaries. We have shown that we have a very effective deterrence and defense capability .”

The deputy editor of the magazine Woin Rossii (German: Russian fighter)Captain Vasily Dandykin, for his part, said ironically:

“The exercises of the ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ immediately caused a sensation in the West. The question was immediately asked: ‘Why are you heading for the US coast?’ It was as if a whole squadron had gone their way.”

The military expert continued:

“The ship only performed the tasks assigned to it. It would work in all the locations already announced. The Atlantic is large and it makes sense to conduct exercises in its western part, especially given the current events in Eastern Europe.”

Dandykin also said:

“Of course, for NATO, Zircon is of great importance. The missile flies at a tremendous speed, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to shoot it down. In addition, it can carry a warhead with a special warhead. It is not difficult to imagine, what happens to an aircraft carrier when this missile hits it.”

And further:

“The missile is also capable of hitting targets thousands of kilometers away. We should practice using such missiles not only in the Arctic, but also in the Atlantic, reaching the appropriate launch points. That is precisely why the United States is closely monitoring our exercises, evaluate them and draw their conclusions from them.”

Dandykin emphasized:

“Moreover, yes, we have repeatedly and quite clearly told NATO that we have such weapons. Computer graphics were demonstrated. But they did not believe us. Well, now there is no longer any doubt. Our exercises in this region of the Atlantic are full-fledged Element of combat training that makes it clear: It’s not the quantity of weapons that counts, but their quality.”

"Reliable Protection of Russia" - Frigate Admiral Gorshkov goes on mission with hypersonic missile

Experts point out that the training run of the “Admiral Gorshkov” with the Zircon missiles is also a unique event because Russia is the first country to open a new page in the book of history, which is headed “Hypersonic missiles on the world’s oceans”. Dmitry Stefanovich, researcher at the Center for International Security at the Russian Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said that according to official data, the “Admiral Gorshkov” will pass the Atlantic, Indian and Mediterranean oceans. This is really a novelty – something like this has never happened before.

He added that although similar programs to develop hypersonic missiles for ships are underway in other countries such as the US and China, Russia is now ahead of these countries. Stefanovich explained:

“Nevertheless, of course, we cannot claim that this is a revolutionary change in the situation. The traditional focus of the Soviet and then Russian navies was on high-velocity anti-ship missiles. What has changed now is the ability to also hit ground targets, what is also a common development in other anti-ship missiles. However, we’re talking about a whole different level of speed and range here.”

Experts also point out another important nuance – the likely use of a target designation system in space during the exercise, because without this system Zircon will not be physically able to perform its tasks, since without such systems its “eyes” the target only can be seen at a distance of 30 to 40 kilometers. Military expert Alexei Leonkov told the newspaper Vsglyad:

“If you want to hit an enemy object at any distance, you cannot do without targeting and reconnaissance. Satellites help us with that. Everyone knows that a ship at sea is like a needle in a haystack. In order to locate a target, you have to First narrow down the square where the enemy ship is located.”

Analysts speculate that the military satellite Pion-NKS, which was put on alert last fall, could have been used for such a task. Leonkov said:

“The reconnaissance satellite then gives the missile the coordinates of the target. When the missile approaches the target, it scans the space, the final reconnaissance of the object takes place. When the target is accurately identified, the missile changes its trajectory and descends to the maximum allowable point for the subsequent attack.”

Leonkov concluded with the conclusion:

“Overall, based on the results of the Atlantic exercise, we can cautiously assume that space reconnaissance and naval cooperation is working. To this end, while a global satellite-based space reconnaissance and targeting system has already been created, its work has continued after the Crisis of the 1990s set. Now everything must be restored. Now it is a matter of scaling these systems in sufficient numbers.”

Translated from Russian, first published by Vzglyad.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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