The Zircon missile, The Associated Press reports, was launched from the White Sea off the coast of Russia and successfully hit its target farther north in the Barents Sea. With the successful launch, which Russian President Vladimir Putin described as a “big event” for Russia, it seems we’ve now entered the era of operational nuclear weapons that fly too quickly to block.
Last December, Russia announced that the Avangard, a hypersonic launch vehicle that can fly 27 times the speed of sound and evade anti-missile systems, was fully operational.
The brief Russian announcement didn’t mention the Avangard by name, but assuming it was used in the launch, it would seem that there’s now tangible evidence that the world’s first of a new class of weapons working as described.
For now, details remain scarce. But Putin said in 2019 that the Zircon could travel 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) at nine times the speed of sound, the AP reports.
“Equipping our Armed Forces — the army and the navy — with the latest, truly unparalleled weapon systems will certainly ensure the defense capability of our country in the long term,” Putin said Wednesday.