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South Africa won’t be a test site for its ‘unstoppable’ new missile, Russia says

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    Nat Quinn
    • Russia says it will not be testing its supposedly fearsome Zircon hypersonic missile during naval exercises in South Africa.
    • On Wednesday, Russia’s leader in the exercise, Captain Oleg Gladkiy, directly denied any such plans.
    • The denial comes after initial meetings with South African counterparts.
    • The state-owned Tass news agency reported the test plan as a done deal, in early February.
    • Outside confirmation of the next-generation missile’s capabilities would be a propaganda coup for Russia.

    The warship¬†Admiral Gorshkov will definitely not be firing what has been described as an “unstoppable” new weapon, the Zircon hypersonic missile, during joint exercises with China and South Africa off the SA coast, Russia said on Wednesday.
    Russia’s leader in the exercise,¬†Captain Oleg Gladkiy, said there would be no use of the Zircon, Reuters reported, and that such a weapon was not on the exercise schedule,¬†AP reported.
    Gladkiy was speaking at a media event after in-person planning and coordination around¬†Exercise Mosi II, between Russia ‚Äď which is taking an increasingly aggressive stance towards countries that oppose its invasion of Ukraine ‚Äď and China and South Africa, which maintain that they are neutral on the war.

    Trilateral naval exercise underway in South Africa

    In early February, Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reported the plan for the launch of what is also translated as the¬†Tsirkon. A¬†“training launch of a Tsirkon hypersonic missile will be carried out, to be the first-ever during an event of this kind”, it quoted¬†an unnamed¬†Russian defence industry source as saying.
    Russian representatives did not respond to questions about the plan at the time.
    The Tass report appeared to be an attempt to test the waters before such a launch, though it is not clear whether it was to gauge how the South African government would respond, to reconfirm to Nato countries that Admiral Gorshkov would be skirting Europe armed with the weapon, or for some other propaganda purpose.
    Russia has treated lies and misinformation as a standard weapon in its arsenal throughout its latest invasion of Ukraine.
    Testing the Zircon in South Africa would have allowed South Africa, and to a lesser extent China, to vouch for the capabilities of a weapon Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised for its invincibility, and its ability to guarantee Russian freedom.

    The Zircon is thought to be the first deployed scramjet hypersonic cruise missile, a technology the likes of the USA and China have been exploring but have yet to claim achieved.

    Unlike previous missiles that can reach similar speeds, it does not rely on a ballistic trajectory, making it hugely harder to intercept. If correctly deployed, tacticians believe, it could threaten capital ships from thousands of kilometres away.

    The mere existence of the weapon could change Western policy, speculation has it.


    South Africa won’t be a test site for its ‘unstoppable’ new missile, Russia says | Business Insider

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