Russian Zircon hypersonic missile against Kiev: “First time in Ukraine”

According to the director of the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute for Forensic Examinations, Moscow used the missile in the attack on the capital on February 7

For the For the first time since the beginning of the war, Russia used a Zircon hypersonic missile in Ukraine. This is supported by Oleksandr Ruvin, director of the Scientific Research Institute for Forensic Examinations in Kiev, who writes on his Telegram channel that this is what emerges fromanalysis of fragments of a missile that hit the Ukrainian capital on 7 February.

Ruvin attaches to his statement a video of the missile wreckage examined, explaining: “In this case, let’s see elements that are characteristic of the Zircon 3M22 missile. Parts and fragments of the engine and launch systems have specific identifications“.

There Russia completed tests for the hypersonic missile last June to then deploy it by the end of the year on a new Northern Fleet frigate. According to what was explained by Alexander Moiseyev, the commander of the Fleet, the frigate Admiral Golovko was the first warship to be regularly armed with the Zircon missile.

What are hypersonic weapons

Hypersonic weapons are glide vehicles (Hgv) and cruise missiles (HCm) operating at medium-high altitudes and very high speeds on non-ballistic trajectories. Studies of the characteristics and properties of the hypersonic regime date back to the 1930s, developed by the Austrian aeronautical engineers Eugen and Irene Sänger, and were resumed in the USA and the USSR from the 1950s in the context of missile and space development, in particular for the reentry of nuclear warheads and space vehicles into the atmosphere. A vehicle with a speed with respect to the air corresponding to a Mach number greater than 5 is considered hypersonic, explains the in-depth study “Hypersonic weapons” published in Iriad Review, written by Alessandro Pascolini.

Hypersonic vehicles have aerodynamic structures such as to create violent shock waves in the atmosphere from which they receive an upward thrust that can cause them to make ‘jumps’ out of the atmosphere into outer space, beyond the Kármán line to 100 km above sea level, when the air is no longer capable of supporting an aircraft that is not traveling at orbital speed (about 7.8 km/s). Shock waves heat the air to such high temperatures that they induce various chemical reactions, including ionization.

“Important to know, because an effect of ionization is the creation around the aircraft of a layer of plasma, an envelope that prevents the passage of electromagnetic signals of all wavelengths, optical and radio frequency”, explains Alessandro Pascolini on Iriad Review. In short, the potential peculiarities of HGVs and HCMs (high maneuverability, endoatmospheric trajectory and speed) make these weapons even more difficult to intercept by defensive systems compared to ballistic missiles and sub- and supersonic cruise missiles. Furthermore, the endo-atmospheric flight altitude and trajectory changes make hypersonic weapons detectable by radar only when they are now close to their targets, unlike ballistic missiles, which can be observed and tracked when they are still in the exo-atmospheric flight phase . A limiting factor for the radar detection of hypersonic vehicles at very high speeds is constituted, as mentioned, by the plasma envelope that surrounds them and blocks the electromagnetic waves.