3M22 Zircon

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3M22 Zircon
Type Anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile
Air-launched cruise missile
Submarine-launched cruise missile
Land-attack missile
Place of origin Russia
Service history
In service In production
Used by Russia
Production history
Designer NPO Mashinostroyeniya
Produced 2012–present

Engine Scramjet
Fuel capacity 600 miles (970 km)
1,000 km (540 nmi; 620 mi)
Speed Mach 8 (6,090 mph; 9,800 km/h; 2,722.3 m/s)
Aircraft, submarines, ships, and ground-based SAM systems

The 3M22 Zircon[1][2] also sometimes spelled 3M22 Tsirkon (Russian: Циркон, NATO reporting name: SS-N-33)[3] is a maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile developed in Russia.[4][5] Its latest successful launch was on June 3, 2017, almost a year earlier than had been announced by Russian officials.[6]


Prototypes were test-launched first from a Tu-22M3 bomber in 2012-2013. Launches from a ground platform followed in 2015, with first success achieved in 2016.

In April 2017, it was reported that the Zircon had reached a speed of Mach 8 (6,090 mph; 9,800 km/h; 2,722.3 m/s) during a test.[7]

In November 2017, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev stated, the Zircon missile already makes a part of the arsenal of the Russian Armed Forces.[8]


The Zircon is believed to be a maneuvering, winged hypersonic cruise missile with a lift-generating center body. A booster stage with solid-fuel engines accelerates it to supersonic speeds, after which a scramjet motor in the second stage accelerates it to hypersonic speeds.[5][9] The missile represents a further development of the HELA (Hypersonic Experimental Flying Vehicle) developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya[10] that was on display at the MAKS Air Show in 1995.

The Zircon's range is estimated to be 135 to 270 nautical miles (155 to 311 mi; 250 to 500 km) at low level, and up to 400 nmi (460 mi; 740 km) in a semi-ballistic trajectory;[11] average range is around 400–450 km (250–280 mi; 220–240 nmi).[12] According to state-owned media, the longest range is 540 nmi (620 mi; 1,000 km) and for this purpose a new fuel was created.[13][14][15]

The Zircon can travel at a speed of Mach 5–Mach 6 (3,806–4,567 mph; 6,125–7,350 km/h; 1,701.5–2,041.7 m/s). Such high speeds have led to concerns that it could penetrate existing naval defense systems; the Royal Navy's Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missile is only capable of intercepting targets flying up to Mach 3.[16][17][18]

The missile will be incorporated into the Kirov-class battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov in 2018, and the Pyotr Velikiy in 2022. The ships will have their P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles replaced with 3S-14 vertical launch systems capable of holding P-800 Oniks and Kalibr missiles as well as the Zircon; each battlecruiser will be equipped with 72 such missiles.[19] After the upgrade, the battlecruisers can carry 40–80 anti-ship missiles of different types.[20] Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates will have possibility to carry 8 while the Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates 16 Zircon missiles.[21][22] The missile may be used also by the planned Lider-class destroyer as well as by other undersea and aerial platforms including the Yasen-class, Husky-class attack submarines[21] and the Tu-160M2, Tupolev PAK DA strategic bombers.

In flight, the missile is completely covered by a plasma cloud. This cloud absorbs any radio waves and makes the missile invisible to radar.[19][22] Missiles exchange information in flight and can be controlled by commands if necessary.[23]


A version for export should have its range limited under 300 km in compliance with the MTCR[11] or up to 400 km.[13]



See also


  1. ^ http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/focus-analysis/naval-technology/3810-analysis-3k22-and-3m22-zircon-the-next-generation-hypersonic-missile-of-the-russian-navy.html
  2. ^ https://sputniknews.com/politics/201708221056695530-russia-hypersonic-missiles/[unreliable source?]
  4. ^ "Russia develops hypersonic 4,600 mph Zircon missile". Fox News. 1 April 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Эксперт рассказал о суперспособности ракеты "Циркон" преодолеть системы ПРО". РЕН ТВ. 15 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Marsden, Harriet (3 June 2017). "New Russian missile 'makes Western defences obselete'". The Independent. Retrieved 5 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "Russia's hypersonic Zircon anti-ship missile reaches eight times speed of sound". TASS. 15 April 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2018. 
  8. ^ "Бондарев: ВС РФ имеют гиперзвуковые ракеты "Циркон" и ракеты донного базирования "Скиф"". TASS. 21 November 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2018. 
  9. ^ "Российские ракеты «Циркон» делают американский «Джеральд Форд» «авианедоносцем».  | Блог Малюта | КОНТ". cont.ws. 
  10. ^ Ivanov, Yuri (17 April 2017). "Гиперзвуковая ракета "Циркон" ослабит позиции США" (in Russian). ОРУЖИЕ РОССИИ. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Russia and India Test Hypersonic and Supersonic Missiles - Ainonline.com, 25 April 2017
  12. ^ Dave Majumdar (2016-04-22). "Russia's Lethal Hypersonic Zircon Cruise Missile to Enter Production". nationalinterest.org. The National Interest Blog. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  13. ^ a b "Для гиперзвуковых крылатых ракет в России создано принципиально новое топливо". vesti.ru. Вести. 2017-05-19. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  14. ^ "Российские ракеты «Циркон» делают американский «Джеральд Форд» «авианедоносцем». | Блог Малюта | КОНТ". Cont.ws. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  15. ^ "Ракеты «Циркон» окончательно определили технологическое превосходство России над США". ruspolitica.ru. Русская политика. 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  16. ^ Mizokami, Kyle (2016-04-26). "Russia's Putting Hypersonic Missiles on Its Battlecruisers". Popularmechanics.com. Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
  17. ^ Caroline Mortimer. "Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers cannot stop Russia's new hypersonic Zircon missiles". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
  18. ^ Britain Admits that Russian Missiles Can Blow Its New Aircraft Carriers Out of the Water - Nationalinterest.org, 30 April 2017
  19. ^ a b Виктория Фоменко (2016-05-17). "Опаснее «Калибра»: Россия начала испытание гиперзвуковой ракеты «Циркон» - Газета Труд". trud.ru. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  20. ^ "Начались испытания гиперзвуковой ракеты "Циркон"". rg.ru. 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  21. ^ a b "Российская ракета "Циркон" достигла восьми скоростей звука". rg.ru. 2017-04-15. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  22. ^ a b "В России успешно провели испытания новой гиперзвуковой ракеты «Циркон», не имеющей аналогов в мире". 1tv.ru. 2017-05-21. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  23. ^ "«Циркон» выходит на рабочую скорость". vz.ru. 2017-04-17. Retrieved 2017-07-17. 
  24. ^ http://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/4746647

Further reading

  • Hypersonic missile "Zircon" why NATO is afraid of new Russian weapons (Russian)
  • Hunting in Russian "Zircon" (Russian)

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