Russia said on Monday it had launched a new hypersonic cruise missile from a submarine, the latest test of emerging weapons President Vladimir Putin has dubbed “invincible”.
Moscow has in recent years touted the development of weapons that it hopes will give it the edge in any arms race with the United States at a time of growing tensions with the West.
Hypersonics can travel more than five times the speed of sound and manoeuvre in mid-flight, making them much harder to track and intercept than traditional projectiles.
The military said on Monday it had fired a Zircon missile from the Severodvinsk nuclear submarine and hit a test target in the Barents Sea in Russia’s Arctic.
“The test launch of the Zircon missile from a nuclear submarine was considered successful,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
The ministry released graine video footage showing missile flares illuminating the night sky.
The Zircon had already undergone several tests in recent years, including a launch from the Admiral Gorshkov frigate.
Putin used his state of the nation address in 2018 to reveal new hypersonic weapons, including the Zircon, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land with a range of 1,000 km.
The Zircon looks set to join Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles that were put into service in 2019 and the air-launched Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles in Russia’s arsenal.
The launch comes a week after North Korea said it had tested a new hypersonic weapon, becoming the latest country to join the hypersonic arms race. Experts agree that, for now at least, Russia has an edge in their development.