Russian warship armed with hypersonic missiles will take part in exercises with China and South Africa

Jan 23 (Reuters) – A Russian warship armed with next-generation hypersonic cruise weapons will take part in joint exercises with the Chinese and South African navies in February, Russian state news agency TASS said on Monday.

This 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 fly at nine times the speed of sound, with a range of more than 1,000 km (620 miles), according to Russia. They form the centerpiece of its hypersonic arsenal, along with the Avangard gliding vehicle which entered combat service in 2019.

“‘Admiral Gorshkov’… will travel to the logistics support point in Tartous in Syria, then participate in joint naval exercises with the Chinese and South African navies,” the agency said, citing a source. unidentified defense.

On Thursday, the South African National Defense Force said the exercises, which will take place from February 17-27 near the port city of Durban and Richards Bay, aim “to strengthen the already flourishing 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 to signal to the West that Russia would not back down from war in Ukraine.

Russia sees the weapons as a way to break through increasingly sophisticated US missile defenses that Putin says 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 means of gaining an advantage over any adversary because of their speed, which is more than five times that of sound, and because they are more difficult to detect.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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