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​Did russia Launch Refurbished Irkutsk Submarine for the Zircon missiles Despite Delays?

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The Irkutsk Project 949A nuclear submarine / open source
The Irkutsk Project 949A nuclear submarine / open source

Status of the Zircon missile integration remains unclear, adding to doubts about its official service status

Russian state media asserts that the Irkutsk Project 949A nuclear submarine, belonging to the Pacific Fleet and presently undergoing refurbishment and modernization at the Zvezda shipyard in Primorsky Krai, was purportedly launched in 2023, despite ongoing modernization efforts.

The submarine’s history is notable, having undergone sea trials and state evaluations in 1988 before joining the Northern Fleet in 1989. In 1992, it conducted its maiden launch of the P-700 Granit anti-ship missile. However, in 2001, it returned to the Zvezda shipyard for maintenance, with repair work formally commencing in 2008 (some sources claim repairs began in 2001), specifically focusing on restoring technical functionality. Plans for modernization emerged in 2013, intending to replace the Granit system with the P-800 Onyx supersonic anti-ship missile and the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile.

Read more: Zircon Missile Used For Strike on Kyiv: Apparently, the russian "Wunderwaffe" Was Shot Down
The Irkutsk Project 949A nuclear submarine Defense Express Did russia Launch Refurbished Irkutsk Submarine for the Zircon missiles Despite Delays?
The Irkutsk Project 949A nuclear submarine / open source

Presently, russian authorities designate the Irkutsk submarine as a platform for the Zircon missiles, estimating its armament to exceed 30 Zircon missiles and over 30 Fizik-2 torpedoes. Formal announcements regarding repairs at the shipyard emerged only in the summer of 2019, initially indicating a projected return to service by 2022. However, subsequent delays postponed the anticipated return to 2023, with recent reports suggesting a further delay until 2025.

he Zircon missile Defense Express Did russia Launch Refurbished Irkutsk Submarine for the Zircon missiles Despite Delays?
The Zircon missile / open source

Regarding the Zircon missiles, recent disclosures from the russian federation indicate they have not yet been officially integrated into service, despite Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s announcement of serial production in 2022. Notably, some sources claim the Zircon missile’s adoption occurred in January 2023, although this remains unconfirmed.

Earlier reports from Defense Express highlighted the purported use of hypersonic Zircon missiles by the russian federation in strikes against Kyiv, underscoring challenges in discerning characteristics of the Zircon missile and limited public knowledge surrounding its capabilities.

Read more: Hypersonic Zircon is the Only Missile russia Hasn't Used Against Ukraine Yet: Doesn't Want to or Cannot?