OK, what many suspected all along was confirmed today by former Commander of Russian Air Force, currently the Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Federation Council (Senate) Viktor Bondarev--3M22 Zircon is operational, together with exotic Skif (Scythian). That, my friends, marks the end of the naval warfare as we know it--no worries, it was coming for some years now and should not represent any surprise. I wrote a lot on the effect which this weapon will have on the warfare, now it is in at least what usually is called IOC (Initial Operational Capability) and that means that all new Russian ships and submarines will be armed (if not already) with it. There is NO way today, and in the nearest future, that Zircon can be intercepted--simply does not exist in nature bar some CGI cartoons about some lasers. The fact that Russian-Indian project of Brahmos was confidently stating as early as two years ago that is was on its way of completing its Mach=5+ Brahmos version of hyper-sonic weapon should have served as a clue. Evidently Zircon is capable of Mach=8, that is roughly 340 meters per second x 8 = 2720 meters per second, or 2.7 kilometers per second, or roughly 1.7 miles per second. Good luck shooting that down. So, I have to now take it a little bit in since this whole thing changes completely Russian outlook on aircraft carriers and it explains a bit what I wrote in USNI Blog:
On 18 July, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov dropped a bomb when he revealed that discussion on the development and production of a brand new Yakovlev STOVL (based on the ideas of the Yak-141) aircraft is in full swing must enter serious production in 2025.12 For the Russian CVN “trade union” and global navalists the news was devastating. Yet, this announcement by Borisov indicated clearly Russia’s ever intensive doctrinal debate and struggle with the carrier issue because it was the Soviet/Russian Navy that developed and today deploys an array of ASCMs designed precisely to make large, expensive CVNs obsolete. The Russian Navy knows the capabilities of its missiles. It also understands that the U.S. Navy, as well as other serious navies, inevitably will break the hypersonic barrier, as well as develop a genuine distributed lethality, and this will rewrite the rules of naval warfare. Already, the U.S. Navy deploys some long-range subsonic missiles, such as the LRASM, whose salvo is extremely difficult to defend against. With long-range hypersonic technology, in a hypothetical Russian case, something as expensive as the proposed Storm-class carrier in battle is simply providing for a fat, expensive, and prestigious target. In real combat, even damage to the decks of carriers makes them nothing more than a huge pile of metal incapable to launch or land fixed-wing aircraft. Russia’s power projection needs can be met by other means, especially against the background of the mediocre performance of the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier in Syria.
So, here is your new brave new world of warfare straight out of comic books--let us just hope that it remains such, just pictures in some magazine.