The Russian Consulate in Cape Town said on Monday that the Admiral Gorshkov frigate, which is equipped with Zircon hypersonic missiles, had moored there ahead of joint military exercises with South Africa, Russia, and China.
The battleship landed in the Mother City on its route to Durban, where it will participate in cooperative naval maneuvers between South Africa, China, and Russia slated for February 17–27.
The drills take place as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches its year anniversary. Despite widespread worldwide criticism of the invasion, it is also a chance for Moscow to demonstrate that it is not alone on the global arena.
Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, and Naledi Pandor, his counterpart from South Africa, justified the naval maneuvers in January after speaking in Pretoria during Lavrov’s first trip to that country since the invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this month, the Admiral Gorshkov frigate “will undertake a training launch of a Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic missile during a joint exercise with South African and Chinese fleets,” according to a source close to Russia’s military sector, as reported by the state-owned news agency TASS.
According to South Africa, 350 members of the South African National Defense Force will take part in the combined maritime drill alongside their Russian and Chinese colleagues. The three navies previously engaged in training in 2019.
It’s the first time that the drills will include the Admiral Gorshkov frigate carrying Zircon hypersonic missiles, which were first tested in late 2021.
The long-range weapons travel more than five times the speed of sound and are harder to detect and intercept.
The frigate was actively involved in testing the missiles, designed and produced by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building, part of Russia’s Tactical Missiles Corporation, according to Tass.