United Shipbuilding Corp., a Russian shipbuilding conglomerate, is equipping Moscow’s Yasen-class nuclear-powered submarines with Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles. USC CEO Alexei Rakhmanov disclosed the ongoing work in an interview with the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.
Russia previously said the Zircon missile can travel at 7,000 mph, allowing it to survive the air defenses of its Western rivals. While the country deployed the frigate Admiral Gorshkov carrying Zircon to patrol the Atlantic and Indian oceans and the Mediterranean Sea in January, there were no reports of Moscow firing the anti-ship missile besides a testing event in 2021.
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, said defending against Zircon would be nearly impossible if the hypersonic missile’s speed information is accurate.
According to a The Hill news article, the United States has increased funding for the development of hypersonic missiles over the past few years but it has yet to field such weapons. Russia and China are currently leading the hypersonic development race, it added.
The U.S. is also focused on the deployment of nuclear-powered submarines as it looks to keep pace with Russia’s modernization initiatives, which has already resulted in Moscow having 11 nuclear-powered submarines in its fleet.