Russia successfully test-launched its Tsirkon (Zircon) hyper-sonic cruise missile from a military vessel for the first time early last month. The Tsirkon missile could hit targets in the USA in less than five minutes if launched from submarines.
President Vladimir Putin talked up hyper-sonic missiles in a March 2018 speech, saying they were part of a new generation of Russian weapons that could hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield.
In accordance with the Tsirkon’s state testing program, in early January this year, the Admiral Gorshkov [ship] carried out the test launch of this missile from the Barents Sea to a ground target in one of the military ranges in the northern Urals.
The next stage in the Tsirkon’s development after tests from the Admiral Gorshkov were complete would be a test launch from a nuclear submarine.
The successful launch of the missile, whose January flight exceeded 500 km (310 miles) according to another source, increased Russia’s military capabilities.
In August, the USA pulled out of a landmark strategic arms accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), adding to tensions between the two former Cold War adversaries, giving both countries the opportunity to expand their nuclear arsenals with increased impunity.
Putin oversaw the launch of a different hyper-sonic missile, the Kinzhal (Dagger), which is air-launched, from a naval vessel in the Black Sea near Crimea in January.
TASS / ABC Flash Point Military News 2020.