Russia equipping new nuclear submarines with hypersonic missiles
PHOTO CAPTION: A still image from video, released by the Russian Defence Ministry, shows what it said to be a Russian nuclear-powered submarine sailing during the military drills Umka-2022 in the Chukchi Sea, in this still image taken from handout footage released September 16, 2022. Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
(Reuters) - Russia is in the process of equipping its new nuclear submarines with hypersonic Zircon missiles, the head of Russia's largest shipbuilder told the RIA state news agency in an interview published on Monday.
"Multi-purpose nuclear submarines of the Yasen-M project will ... be equipped with the Zircon missile system on a regular basis," , Alexei Rakhmanov, chief executive officer of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), told RIA.
"Work in this direction is already underway."
Yasen-class submarines, also known as Project 885M, are nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines, built to replace Soviet-era nuclear attack submarines as part of a programme to modernise the army and fleet.
The sea-based Zircon hypersonic missiles have a range of 900 km (560 miles), and can travel at several times the speed of sound, making it difficult to defend against them.
President Vladimir Putin said earlier this year that Russia would start mass supplies of Zircon missiles as part of the country's efforts to boost its nuclear forces.
The Russian multi-purposes frigate Admiral Gorshkov, which has tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic Ocean earlier this year, has been already equipped with Zircon missiles.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)