RAF spy plane ‘monitors Russian war games in Arctic waters’ as Moscow tests new hypersonic missile
- A British spy plane has been reported to have tracked Russian movements in the Barents Sea
- Russia boasted that its new hypersonic missile had ‘hit the bullseye’ during testing
- The 6,100 mph Zircon rocket was first tested last year on Vladimir Putin’s birthday
A British spy plane has been monitoring Russian war games in the Arctic, where Moscow says it has completed initial tests on a new hypersonic missile, local media say.
An RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance jet, flown by the RAF, is said to have flown through the air this week near where the Kremlin’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate sailed off the north coast of Russia this week.
The Gorskhov has conducted at least four test launches of the new 6,100 mph Zircon missile, which is expected to enter service next year and which defense chiefs bragged “ hit the bull’s eye ” during testing.
Vladimir Putin sees the Mach 8 Zircon as his favorite missile to hit American cities in the event of a nuclear conflict, it is said.
Zircon’s hypersonic cruise missile was launched last year from Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov during tests coinciding with Vladimir Putin’s 68th birthday.
An RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft (file photo) from the RAF is said to have flown through the air near where Russia was conducting war games this week
The Gorshkov was scheduled to fire the Zircon this week, although the defense chiefs only confirmed that supersonic Oniks missiles had been fired from the frigate.
The missiles hit a target off the coast of Nova Zembla, where a large water area in the Arctic waters had been declared ‘prohibited for all ships’.
A military source told the Russian state news agency TASS: ‘Flight tests (of the Zircon) of Admiral Gorshkov have been successfully completed.
‘A total of four launches have been made. All missiles hit the bullseye
Trials of the Zircon missile are scheduled to be completed in 2021, while mass production of the new weapon is expected to begin in 2022, TASS reported.
It was the second time in a week that a British spy plane buzzed an area of the Barents Sea to view Russian missile tests, the Barents Observer said.
Tests of a submarine’s Mach 8 missile are also expected soon.
The hypersonic Zircon missile fired from a hatch in the top deck of a Russian frigate during tests in the White Sea last year
Putin has previously described the Zirkon – also known as Tsirkon – as “truly unparalleled … in the world.”
The first Zircon test launch of the missile from the Gorshkov took place in early October and was seen as a 68th birthday present for Putin.
More test launches followed in November and December.
A radiation leak during a military accident that killed two people and injured six in 2019 is said to have occurred during testing of the missile.
According to Greenpeace, the radiation level temporarily rose 20 times above the normal level in Severodvinsk, 18 miles from the weapons test site in Nyonoksa.
Vladimir Putin (pictured Wednesday in Moscow) has previously described the Zirkon – aka Tsirkon – as ‘truly unparalleled … in the world’
Dmitry Kiselyov, the host of Russian news show Vesti Nedeli, showed a map of the US on screen with targets he claimed would hit the Kremlin in nuclear war.
Kiselyov, seen as a leading Putin propagandist, said the Zircon missile could hit the targets in less than five minutes.
Putin has claimed that the West was trying to steal secrets related to Zircon and other state-of-the-art Russian weapons such as the Avangard.
Oniks missiles were also fired at a target near the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, which was once a Soviet Union’s nuclear testing ground, the Defense Ministry said.
Two logistics support ships of the Russian Northern Fleet – Elbrus and Ilya Muromets were also located southwest of Novaya Zemlya.
Previous Zircon tests were conducted from the White Sea, hitting floating targets twice and a land target once.