Used against terrestrial targets, missiles that stay in the atmosphere and the major part of the path is flown at a speed that is approximately constant, is termed as a cruise missile.

Categorized by speed, size, range, launching area such as air/ land/ submarine/ surface ship, cruise missiles are divided into six types. The categories of cruise missiles are Hypersonic, Supersonic, Intercontinental-range Supersonic, Long-range Subsonic, Medium-range Subsonic, Short-range Subsonic.

Presently there are many supersonic cruise missiles in the world, many are still in the development stage. In this article, you will get to know about the fastest cruise missile in the world and also get information about some of the fastest hypersonic missiles in the world. So, let’s waste no more time and scroll down to know all about these missiles.

Fastest Supersonic Cruise Missile in the World

Presently, BrahMos missile is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world which is designed and developed to be launched from ships, aircraft, land or submarine. India and Russia are jointly engaged in the development of the BrahMos missile. This is also the fastest cruise missile in the world.

The BrahMos Aerospace was formed by India’s DRDO and Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya. The name “BrahMos” was formed by joining the names of two rivers of India and Russia; Moskva of Russia and Brahmaputra of India.

  • On 12 June 2001 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur BrahMos missile was first test-fired. It was the surface-to-surface variants.
  • The first test-firing of the submarine-launched variant of Brahmos took place on 20 March 2013  from a submerged pontoon near Visakhapatnam at the coast of Bay of Bengal.
  • Against a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal from a Sukhoi-30MKI, BrahMos-A, the air-launched variant was successfully test-fired for the first time on 22nd November 2017.

Also Read : How to Start UPSC Preparation from Zero Level? Here’s How to Prepare for IAS

Fastest Hypersonic Missiles in the World

Presently there are only three hypersonic missiles in the world which are soon to be put in service. Hypersonic missile countries like Russia, China and the USA are constantly working on this technology and recently India also joined the league by successfully test-firing HSTDV.

World’s Fastest Hypersonic Cruise Missile List:

  • 3M22 Zircon Missile
  • Shaurya Missile
  • BrahMos II

3M22 Zircon Missile

It is a scramjet-powered manoeuvring anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile presently under testing by Russia. This one of the fastest hypersonic missiles in the world is designed with a lift-generating centre body.

This hypersonic missile’s speed is around Mach 8 to 9 and has an operational range from 1000 to 2000 km, depending on the type of target. This is designed to be launched from submarine and surface ships.

From the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the Barents Sea, Zircon was first test-launched in January 2020 and was able to hit the ground target in Northern Urals. It also exceeded the distance of 500 km.

Shaurya Missile

Developed by the DRDO or the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation, this hypersonic surface-to-surface tactical missile has a range of 430 to 1,180 mi or 700 to 1,900 km. This was developed to be used in the Indian Armed Forces.

This hypersonic missile’s speed is 7.5 times more than the speed of sound (Mach 7.5). It is designed with a two-stage solid rocket motor and has an operational range of 700 to 1900 km. 

On 24th September 2011, from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha, Shaurya was test-fired for the third time where the full range of 700 km in 500 seconds was covered.

BrahMos II

The hypersonic version of BrahMos missile is being developed by India and Russia. This one of the fastest hypersonic missiles in the world will be able to reach a speed of Mach 7 or 8575 km/h.

Ramjet engine will be replacing the scramjet engine in this version of the BrahMos missile. The operational engine is expected to be approximately from 450 to 600 km or from 280 to 370 mi.

The hypersonic missile is expected to be tested by 2020.

List of some of the Hypersonic Cruise Missile in the World:

  • 3M22 Zircon by Russia
  • 14-X by Brazil.
  • BrahMos II by India and Russia.
  • High-Speed Strike Weapon by the United States.
  • Kh-90 by the Soviet Union/ Russia.
  • DF-ZF by China.

List of Cruise Missiles in India

Name Type Operation range Speed
BrahMos Missile Supersonic 290 km Mach 2.8 to 3 Mach
BrahMos II Hypersonic 450 – 600 km Mach 7
Nirbhay Subsonic 1,000 – 1500 km Mach 0.8

What makes Hypersonic Missiles Different from other Missiles?:

  • Hypersonic missile’s speed is faster than 6,115 km per hour or 3800 miles per hour.
  • These can deliver conventional or nuclear payloads within minutes.
  • Hugely manoeuvrable.
  • While travelling, these won’t follow predictable arcs.
  • These have manoeuvring capabilities of cruise missiles along with the speed of ballistic missiles.
  • Their high speed makes it hard to track, unlike traditional missiles.


UPSC IAS syllabus is wide and covers diverse topics. Current affairs section of the civil service exam plays a significant role in cracking the exam with good marks. One of the dynamic and important segments in the UPSC syllabus is defence. Many questions from this section have been asked in the previous years. Aspirants should take good care of this section as questions from this part are mostly factual than conceptual.

The hypersonic missile is a hot topic these days and aspirants must keep them well aware about it. Hopefully, this article will help aspirants to gather enough information about the defence world. To know more about the latest current affairs, keep an eye on this page and keep preparing well for the upcoming exam. Best of luck!

Also Read : Countries with Hypersonic Missiles: How Many Countries have Hypersonic Missiles?

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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