Putin says the Russian Navy's newest ship will soon carry a new hypersonic missile that may be unstoppable
- Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Russian city of Kaliningrad last Thursday and told Defense Minister Sergei Shoyu that the new corvette Gremyashchi would carry the Zircon hypersonic missiles still being developed.
- According to Putin and Russian state media, the missile can reach speeds of Mach 9 and hit targets in the US in five minutes.
- The missiles could be deployed as soon as 2020.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on Oct. 31 that the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile will "certainly" be onboard the Russian Navy's newest corvette, set to enter service next month, according to RT. The Zircon missile, while reportedly still under development, cannot be intercepted by any defense systems currently in use, according to Russian state media outlet TASS.
The Zircon missile reportedly travels at nine times the speed of sound; the term "hypersonic" is generally understood to mean an object travels at least five times the speed of sound. The missile was still under development as of February, when Russia-1, the state television station, threatened five US positions including the Pentagon, saying that the Zircon missile could hit the targets in less than five minutes.
Also in February, Putin claimed in his Address to the Federal Assembly that the missile's development was progressing according to schedule.
Putin used the missile to threaten the US should it deploy any new nuclear missiles closer to Russia as the INF treaty began to unravel in February.
"You work it out: Mach nine, and over 1,000 km," Putin told Russian media at the time, Reuters reported.
While the claims of Russian state media and Russian leadership are impossible to verify, Putin has said that the Zircon can destroy both sea and land targets.
The Zircon, or Tsirkon, is compatible with the Kalibr missile systems, which are already aboard the Gremyashchiy corvette, according to the Center for Strategic International Studies' Missile Threat project. TASS reports that the Gremyashchiy is the first corvette in the Pacific Fleet to carry the Kalibr missiles.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, the Zircon could potentially be deployed next year.
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