TechUkrainian experts question effectiveness of Russian Zircon missile in recent Kyiv attack

Ukrainian experts question effectiveness of Russian Zircon missile in recent Kyiv attack

Zircon Missile - illustrative picture
Zircon Missile - illustrative picture
Images source: © Youtube

7:23 AM EST, February 13, 2024

The Ukrainians have corroborated the use of a 3M22 Zircon hypersonic maneuvering missile by the Russians. Ruwin stated on his Telegram channel that "this is confirmed by the markings on parts and fragments, identification of details, and characteristics of this type of weapon". He also addressed the fact that "the missile was targeted at an area devoid of military objects, which resulted in damage to civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties".

Are Zircons different from what Moscow promised?

Interestingly, Ruwin stated that we could already "claim that the weapon does not meet the tactical and technical specifications declared by the enemy." It is noteworthy that Vladimir Putin frequently heralded the Zircon project and emphasized that the missile "is unparalleled". In 2021, the Russian president claimed that the missile could achieve speeds of approximately 9 Mach, was challenging to detect, had a range of 621 miles, and could greatly amplify Russia’s defense and offensive capabilities.

Alexander Leonov, the general director, and chief designer of NPO Mashinostroeniya, the design bureau responsible for constructing the Zircon, was awarded the highest state honorary title - the Hero of the Russian Federation - by Vladimir Putin for his significant contribution to the development of the Zircons in late 2021. This underscores the importance assigned to the Zircons by the authorities, often dubbed the "superweapon of Russia".

Ownership of hypersonic missiles is limited to only a few countries. Their development necessitates technological advancement and meticulous crafting of many intricate solutions. The Russians have been developing Zircons since 2011, and started testing this weapon in 2015. At the Army-2021 military-technical forum, held in August 2021, the Russian Ministry of Defense inked a contract to procure Zircon missiles from the NPO Mashinostroeniya design bureau. It was then declared that the contract would be completed by 2025.

The number of missiles produced thus far is unknown. However, experts from the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise noted that the markings on the wreckage of the 3M22 Zircon missile that fell on Kyiv suggest that the missile was assembled recently. It was composed of parts fabricated in 2023-2024.

There exists a possibility that Russia did not previously possess functional Zircons, which could explain why Putin's army did not deploy this weapon in Ukraine earlier. On the contrary, it cannot be eliminated that the rushed construction implied that Russia's "superweapon" was not perfected. Hence, it "does not meet the tactical and technical specifications declared by the enemy", as outlined by analysts from KNDISE.

Related content