Recent reports indicate that, Russia's Tsirkon seaborne hypersonic cruise missile is at the final stage of its state trials, while on the other hand, in the current year, its serial supplies to the Navy shall commence.
Equipped with a lift-generating centre body, the missile is believed to be a manoeuvring, winged hypersonic cruise missile. The primary reason behind Zircon's supersonic speed is a booster stage with a solid-fuel engine that accelerates the missile post, which is taken ahead by a scramjet motor with liquid fuel in the second stage that pushes the missile to meet hypersonic speeds.
The hypersonic 3M-22 missile is suggested to be a part of the 3K-22 (Tsirkon code) complex, which NATO reports as SS-N-33 by the open sources. The missile can fly at an altitude of 30-40 km while developing a speed of Mach 9. The range and speed increase since the air resistance is comparatively minor at the above-cited altitude. According to several reports, the missile can be fired from Bastion mobile coastal missile launchers and universal vertical launchers 3S-14 on submarines and warships.
That said, the estimated range of the missile stands around 135 to 270 nautical miles at low level and approximately 400 nautical miles in a semi-ballistic trajectory where the average range of the missile is about 400 to 450 km. As reported by Russian media, a new fuel was created for the missile to reach its most extended possible range of 540 nautical miles. Backstage, some internet tabloids also claim the missile can acquire a capacity of 1,000 to 2,000 km depending on the type of target.
The missile has drawn the attention and concerns of several nations as it could penetrate existing naval defence systems due to a speed of Mach 8 - Mach 9. The air pressure in front of the missile forms a plasma cloud as it moves as it flies at hypersonic speeds within the atmosphere absorbing radio waves and making it practically invisible to active radar systems. As an additional advantage, the missile can also exchange information in flight and be controlled by commands if necessary.
(Edited by Aritra Banerjee)