- Russia has successfully tested a ship-based hypersonic missile the United States is currently unable to defend against, according to people with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence reports.
- The weapon is expected to join Moscow’s arsenal by 2022.
- The latest development gives the U.S. even more ground to make up as Russia and China bolster their arsenals with hypersonic weapons at a breakneck pace.
WASHINGTON — Russia has conducted another successful test of its ship-based hypersonic missile, a weapon the United States is currently unable to defend against, according to two people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report.
The people, who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity, said Russia has carried out five total tests of its ship-based hypersonic missile since 2015.
The last known test of the device, dubbed “Tsirkon,” was successfully conducted Dec. 10 and reached a top speed of Mach 8, approximately eight times the speed of sound, or about two miles per second.
“What we are seeing with this particular weapon is that the Russians designed it to have a dual-purpose capability, meaning, it can be used against a target on land as well as a vessel at sea,” one source explained. “Last week’s successful test showed that the Russians were able to achieve sustained flight, a feat that is crucial in the development of hypersonic weapons.”
The U.S. intelligence report, according to one source, noted that production of the missile is slated to begin in 2021 and it will join the Kremlin’s arsenal no earlier than 2022.
The latest development means the U.S. will have to make up even more ground as Russia and China bolster their arsenals with hypersonic weapons at a breakneck pace.
The revelations about the ship-based missile come a little more than nine months after Russian President Vladimir Putin touted his nation’s growing hypersonic arsenal as “invincible.” Moscow’s sprint to field this new breed of weapon has sparked fears over a budding arms race.
“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: You have failed to contain Russia,” Putin said during his March national address.