Jan 23 (Reuters) – A Russian warship armed with new-generation hypersonic cross weapons will participate in joint exercises with the navies of China and South Africa in February, Russia’s state agency TASS said on Monday.
It was the first official mention of the participation of the frigate “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov”, which is armed with Zircon missiles.
The missiles will fly at nine times the speed of sound, with a range of more than 1,000 km (620 miles), Russia says. They are the centerpiece of his hypersonic arsenal, along with the Avangard glider that entered combat service in 2019.
“‘Admiral Gorshkov’ will go to the logistical base in Tartus in Syria and then participate in joint naval exercises with the Chinese and South African navies,” the agency said, citing an unidentified defense source.
The South African National Defense Force said on Thursday the exercises, which will take place from February 17 to 27 near the port city of Durban and Richards Bay, aim to “strengthen the already thriving relationship 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 in its statement.
The “Gorshkov” held exercises in the Norwegian Sea 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.
Russia sees the weapons as a way to pierce increasingly sophisticated US missile defenses, which Putin has warned could one day shoot down its nuclear missiles.
China, Russia and the United States are in a race to develop hypersonic weapons, seen as a way to gain an edge over any opponent because of their speeds, more than five times that of sound, and because they are harder to detect.
Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Edited by Clarence Fernandez
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.