Russia tests nuclear-capable ballistic missiles

Russia is the latest nation to join the hypersonic race, with its defence bosses declaring that the country now has military weapons capable of flying up to eight times the speed of sound.

Viktor Bondarev, head of Russia's defence council, said on Tuesday that Russia now has the Zircon missile, which was in development for the last 20 years. The weapon has the speed of Mach 8 and was tested in June on Backfire bombers and ground-based missile launchers.

Introduced in 1995, the Zircon or Tsirkon missile is capable of blasting enemy ships in the water and flying 250 miles at the speed of 6,138 mph. It can now be fitted in warships, submarines, missile launchers and planes coming from Russia. It is exponentially more powerful than the current Royal Navy missile interceptors, which have the capability of stopping weapons coming at Mach 3 speed. This development catapults Russia to the lead in the arms race among US, China and Russia.

Recently, China announced that it is building a hypersonic tunnel that can send weapons to the US at Mach 5 speed, that is 14 minutes. It also revealed its own hypersonic weapons, which have a speed of about 20,000 mph.

Currently, New York's LENX-X facility has a wind tunnel with the speed of 10 kilometres per second. Giving tough competition to them, Russia has reportedly designed missiles capable of bypassing current defence systems, reports Daily Star.

"As of today, we have in our arsenal unique strategic bombers tactical missile systems with powerful ballistic and cruise missiles, Sarmat heavy missile complexes, sir defence missile systems, intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered missile cruisers with powerful anti-ship missiles," said Bondarev. The weapons have been assigned to Putin's two battlecruisers: the Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikiy.

New fuel has also been developed to power the advanced missiles, which have made Russia at par or perhaps more advanced than NATO.