Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Russia is in the process of developing a new hypersonic cruise missile — the 3M22 Zircon (Tsirkon), but the weapon is currently suffering from “childhood diseases,” the Russian navy's top admiral revealed to Russian media, The War Zone first reported.
Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov told RIA Novosti that the Zircon hypersonic missile expected to eventually arm Russian frigates would be available to the fleet “in the coming years.”
The Russian admiral did not elaborate on what “childhood diseases” are affecting the weapon's development. He simply said that modernization efforts will correct these deficiencies. Yevmenov explained that work on the Zircon missile will be carried out simultaneously with ongoing efforts to arm warships with the 3M-54 Kalibr land-attack cruise missile.
Russia's state-run TASS news agency reported without official confirmation last March that one of the Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates would likely test-launch the Zircon before the end of 2019. No test appears to have taken place, despite, as The Drive notes, speculation surrounding a missile test involving the Admiral Gorshkov in late November.
While TASS reported that “the frigate's crew will hold a series of trials to test-fire new missile armament,” a follow-on report, citing the Northern Fleet, revealed that “the frigate fired one cruise missile Kalibr and one missile Oniks from the onboard launchers.” Neither missile is “new.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in February of last year that the Zircon was able to hit speeds as high as Mach 9 and eliminate targets on land and at sea up to 620 miles away.
The exact capabilities of the Zircon missile are unknown.
In November of last year, he revealed that the Project 1155 Udaloy-class destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov and Project 949A Antey-class nuclear-powered submarine Irkutsk would be upgraded to carry the Zircon.
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