On January 4, Russian President Putin announced the deployment of a ship named Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov – armed with cruise missiles – to the Atlantic Ocean.
"This time the ship is equipped with the latest hypersonic missile system – 'Zircon'," Putin said during a video conference with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Igor Krokhmal, the frigate's commander. "I am sure that such powerful weapons will reliably protect Russia from potential external threats," he continued.
Putin's move was touted by Reuters as "a signal to the West that Russia will not back down over the war in Ukraine."
American Family News spoke to Captain James Fanell, a former director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, about the development. Putin's announcement, he says, is "the culmination of Russia's rapid development and fielding of a hypersonic weapons program, one that poses a significant threat" from the Russian Navy.
"The Admiral Gorshkov is equipped with the Zircon anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile that has an estimated operational range over 600 miles," Fanell indicates. "Powered by a scramjet, the Zircon is estimated to be able to reach a speed of Mach 9 (nearly 7,000 miles per hour), which makes this missile virtually impossible for U.S. and other NATO navies to defend against."
Since January 2020, the former naval officer indicates, the Admiral Gorshkov is reported to have completed ten successful test launches of the Zircon with the final successful test launch in May 2022 against a target in the White Sea at a distance of 620 miles.
"The Zircon hypersonic missile has also been tested from Russian Navy submarines and represents the emphasis that Vladimir Putin has placed on advanced weapons that will pose lethal threats to the U.S. Navy and our allies – not just in Europe but also in the Pacific," Fanell warns.