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Frigate with Tsirkon missiles to head Russia’s Mediterranean task force — source

Its release to the sea is scheduled for January 2023

MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. Russian Northern Fleet frigate Admiral Gorshkov armed with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles will head the Russian Navy’s task force in the Mediterranean Sea next year, a source close to Russia’s defense ministry told TASS on Wednesday.

"The Admiral Gorshkov is scheduled to begin its combat duty at sea in January 2023. It will perform its combat tasks in the Mediterranean Sea, with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles on board," the source said, adding that it will be the first mission of this kind in the history of the Russian fleet.

The information is yet to be officially confirmed.

On December 21, at the Defense Ministry’s board session, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the frigate armed with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles would enter service in January 2023. On December 28, the Northern Fleet’s press service said frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov, under the command of Captain 1st Rank Igor Krokhmal, had completed preparations for a long-distance voyage.

In December, the vessel arrived to the Northern Fleet’s main base in Severomorsk after scheduled maintenance at the Kronstadt Marine Plant.

The Russian Northern Fleet currently operates two warships of Project 22350: the Admiral Gorshkov and the Admiral Kasatonov. Frigates of this Project carry the Kalibr-NK cruise missile system as their basic strike weapon. These warships displace 4,500 tons and can accelerate to 29 knots. They are armed with Oniks and Kalibr missiles and Poliment-Redut air defense missile systems.

Project 22350 frigates are expected to become the Russian Navy’s most advanced warships in their class. These frigates are multi-purpose combat ships capable of effectively fighting enemy surface ships, aircraft and submarines and delivering strikes against ground and coastal installations from a range of over 1,500 km.

Tsirkon missiles are produced by NPO Mashinostroenia in Reutov. In his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly in February 2019, Putin said that the Tsirkon missile is capable of reaching speed of about Mach 9 (nine times the speed of sound), with its range exceeding 1,000 km.