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US Navy nightmare: Russian hypersonic anti-ship missiles

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — The U.S. Navy would be devastated if ever all Russian surface ships were fitted with Tsirkon hypersonic anti-ship missiles, according to the National Interest.

Hypersonic anti-ship missiles aboard each Russian surface ship are a scenario that the U.S. Navy would rather not consider, reports the American magazine National Interest.

Two interesting things have happened in recent months. In January 2020, Russia launched the first Tsirkon missile from a surface ship. Admiral Gorshkov, the first of the new frigates for Project 22350, fired a missile from the Barents Sea against a ground target.

Another notable event took place in December 2019, when the head of the largest Russian shipbuilder Alexei Rakhmanov said that all of Russia’s new warships would be capable of firing hypersonic Tsirkon missiles and Kalibr cruise missiles.

He added that equipping existing ships with new missiles would not be “too expensive a problem.”

A missile that has become a scarecrow

The review indicates that the Tsirkon missile has become a scarecrow with its range of 1,000 kilometers and a speed of Mach 8 to Mach 9 (9,878 to 11,113 km / h), much faster than subsonic anti-ship missiles like the American Harpoon (864 km / h) or supersonic weapons such as the Russian P-800 Onyx (Mach 2.5 or 3.087 km / h).

The threat is serious enough that Britain feared that the missile defenses of its new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers could not stop Russian hypersonic anti-ship weapons.

According to the National Interest, Russia and the Soviet Union have never really tried to compete with the United States in terms of large ships like aircraft carriers. But the Russian Navy today has about 30 destroyers and frigates, 50 corvettes and 30 patrol boats which, once armed with missiles like the Tsirkon, could sink a large American cruiser or even an aircraft carrier.

Vulnerability of low tonnage vessels

The review indicates, however, that in confined waters near the Russian coast, with abundant support from ground aircraft and radars, Russian ships armed with Tsirkon would be formidable. But in the North Atlantic the situation will be different.

This is because Russian small tonnage ships do not have long-range sensors capable of detecting the target before the target detects them unless they are powered by sensor data from another ship or aircraft.

“The Tsirkon and his ilk are deadly (or possibly fatal, as they have not yet been tested in battle). But the question remains whether it really is,” summarizes the review.

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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.