Russian vessel Admiral Gorshkov, which is deployed with new Zircron hypersonic cruise missiles, one of the world's most deadly weapons, is to sail to the Atlantic and Indian oceans, as well as through the Mediterranean waters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is very proud of this frigate, the Mach 9 hypersonic Zircon missiles have no equivalent in any country in the world. A video shows him visibly pleased as he announced the sailing of the warship to be an important event.
The ship was officially commissioned in 2018 and assigned to the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet.
Modern Surface Combatant
The Gorshkov class frigates are among the service's most modern surface combatants. It did an around-the world voyage in 2019 that saw the vessel dock at ports in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Putin said such powerful weapons will reliably protect Russia from potential external threats and help ensure Russia's national interests. He had earlier said that Zircon would be operationally deployed in some capacity. Russia is also looking to employ Zircon on other types of ships and submarines, including the nuclear-powered Yasen and Yasen-M class submarines.
Captain Igor Krokhmal, Gorshkov's commanding officer, said the ship has been loaded with variants of the Kalibr subsonic cruise missile family, including anti-ship and land attack types, as well as Zircons. The Admiral Gorshkov is capable of firing these weapons, as well as Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, from an array of 16 multi-purpose vertical launch cells at the bow-end of the ship.
Moreover, the frigates are armed with 130mm main gun, a navalized version of the S-350 surface-to-air missile system called Redut, Palash close-in weapon systems and torpedoes.
Show of Force
Regional experts see the Russian warship's deployment as an important show of force in the context of its growing geopolitical isolation over the so-called special operations in Ukraine. It is yet to be seen whether Moscow will use Admiral Gorshkov and its Zircon in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Experts believe the warship could technically fire missiles at Ukraine from the Mediterranean, but for that it would have to fly over one or more NATO members. And it should be noted that Turkey had said that it would block any warships from sailing into the Black Sea from the Mediterranean through the Dardanelles and the Bosporous.
Under scrutiny is the reliability of Russia's existing missiles and what the country's capacity might be currently to produce them. Furthermore, there is the scrutiny of Russia's defense enterprises which have been severely hit by crippling international sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine.