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Russia claims another successful test of Zircon hypersonic missile

Russia claims another successful test of Zircon hypersonic missile
Russia's Northern and Black Sea fleets carried out exercises in the Black Sea, Crimea, on January 9, 2020, including firings of Russia's Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile. File Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin Pool/EPA-EFE

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Russia's defense ministry announced Monday it has carried out another successful test firing of the Zircon hypersonic missile.

Defense officials said in a statement the missile was fired from the Northern Fleet frigate Admiral Gorshkov while sailing in the White Sea.

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The missile's flight "corresponded to the specified parameters" and successfully hit a marine target located nearly 250 miles away, they said.

The same ship and crew also successfully performed a Zircon test firing at a naval target two weeks ago, according to the Northern Fleet.

The Kremlin announced last month the missile was successfully test-fired from an underwater position for the first time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin touted the Zircon missile as a new "invincible" generation of weapons when first unveiling it two years ago. Moscow says it can reach speeds of Mach 9 -- nine times the speed of sound -- to evade enemy air defenses, and has a range of over 600 miles.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told CBS News the tests will be completed by the end of the year and that he expects that the Navy will commission the weapon next year for cruisers, frigates and submarines.

The United States, France and China are also seeking to develop their own hypersonic missile systems.

The U.S. Defense Department said on June 9 its hypersonic missile program was accelerating but staying within its $6.6 billion budget. Days later, the DoD announced a missile defense review to be completed by February 2022 "to correlate its needs against rising nuclear powers," noting that "nations such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and China [are] all maturing their missile technology."

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The U.S. Air Force successfully detonated a hypersonic missile warhead for the first time in a ground test in July.

The Financial Times last week reported further details of what it said was a Chinese test of a hypersonic weapon test in July. The test used new technology enabling China to fire a nuclear-capable missile traveling at least five times the speed of sound while in mid-flight, the newspaper reported.

China last month denied it has tested a hypersonic weapon, calling the incident "a routine test of spacecraft to verify technology of spacecraft's reusability."

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