Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency revealed today that a Russian warship equipped with hypersonic cruise missiles will join in exercises with the navies of China and South Africa next month.
This marks the first official confirmation of the involvement of the Russian frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov. The frigate is armed with Zircon missiles, capable of reaching speeds nine times the speed of sound and travelling over 1,000 kilometres, reported Aljazeera.
In addition to the Zircon missiles, the Avangard glide vehicle also forms a crucial part of Russia’s hypersonic arsenal, which entered combat duty in 2019.
TASS reported that…
“‘Admiral Gorshkov will go to the logistic support point in Syria’s Tartus, and then take part in joint naval exercises with the Chinese and South African navies.
“The South African National Defence Force has said the drills will run from February 17-26 near the port cities of Durban and Richards Bay on South Africa’s east coast.
“The joint exercise aims to strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia, and China.”
This exercise will be the second of its kind involving the three countries in South Africa, following a drill in 2019, according to the defence force.
The Gorshkov recently held exercises in the Norwegian Sea, after being sent to the Atlantic Ocean by President Vladimir Putin as a signal to the West that Russia would not back down over the war in Ukraine.
Putin has previously stated that the frigate and its Zircon missiles have “no analogues in the world.”
The Russian President sees these weapons as a means to penetrate the United States’ increasingly sophisticated missile defences.
Russia, the US, and China are all currently competing to develop hypersonic weapons, which are seen as a means to gain an advantage over any adversary due to their speed and manoeuvrability, making them harder to detect.