Russian frigate armed with hypersonic Zircon missiles will participate in joint exercises in South Africa in February, says TASS.
A Russian warship armed with hypersonic cruise weapons will participate in exercises with the Chinese and South African navies in February, according to Russia’s state news agency TASS.
Monday’s report was the first official mention of the participation of the Russian frigate Admiral of the Soviet Union Fleet Gorshkov.
The frigate is armed with Zircon missiles, which fly nine times faster than sound and have a range of more than 1,000 km (620 mi).
The missiles are the centerpiece of Russia’s hypersonic arsenal, along with the Avangard glider that entered combat service in 2019.
“‘Admiral Gorshkov’…will go to the logistics base in Tartus in Syria and then participate in joint naval exercises with the Chinese and South African navies,” TASS said in its report, citing an unidentified defense source. .
The South African National Defense Force has said the exercises will take place from February 17 to 26 near the port cities of Durban and Richards Bay on South Africa’s east coast.
It said on Thursday the joint exercise aims to “strengthen already thriving relations between South Africa, Russia and China”.
The exercise will be the second involving the three countries in South Africa, following an exercise in 2019, the defense force added.
The Gorshkov held exercises in the Norwegian Sea earlier this month after President Vladimir Putin sent it to the Atlantic Ocean as a signal to the West that Russia would not back down from the war in Ukraine.
Putin has previously said that the frigate and its Zircon missiles have “no analogues in the world”.
The Russian president sees the weapons as a way to break through the United States’ increasingly sophisticated missile defenses.
Russia, the US and China are in a race to develop hypersonic weapons, seen as a way to gain an edge over any opponent due to their speed and agility, properties that make them harder to detect.