Zircon hypersonic missiles set sail aboard Russian frigate

STORY: Russia's defence ministry later released footage it said was the frigate armed with Zircon hypersonic missiles leaving a Russian naval base in the northern city of Severomorsk in Murmansk region.

Russia, China and the United States are in a race to develop hypersonic weapons which are seen as a way to gain an edge over any adversary because of their speeds - above five times the speed of sound - and maneuverability.

In a video conference with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Igor Krokhmal, commander of the frigate named "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov," Putin said the ship was armed with Zircon (Tsirkon) hypersonic weapons.

"This time the ship is equipped with the latest hypersonic missile system - 'Zircon'," said Putin. "I am sure that such powerful weapons will reliably protect Russia from potential external threats."

The weapons, Putin said, had "no analogs in any country in the world."