Russia Deploys First Hypersonic Nuclear-Capable Missiles

Vladimir Putin told an annual military meeting this week that Russia is the only country with hypersonic weapons.
Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/AP

Russia has deployed its first hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles, with Vladimir Putin boasting that it puts his country in a class of its own.

The president described the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, which can fly at 27 times the speed of sound, as a technological breakthrough comparable to the 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite.

Putin has said Russia’s new generation of nuclear weapons can hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield, though some western experts have questioned how advanced some of the weapons programmes are.

The Avangard is launched on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile, but, unlike a regular missile warhead, which follows a predictable path after separation, it can make sharp manoeuvres en route to its target, making it harder to intercept.

The defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, told Putin the first missile unit equipped with the Avangard had entered combat duty.

“I congratulate you on this landmark event for the military and the entire nation,” Shoigu said later during a conference call with top military leaders.

The strategic missile forces chief, Gen Sergei Karakaev, said during the call that the Avangard had been put on duty with a unit in the Orenburg region in the southern Ural mountains.

Putin unveiled the Avangard and other prospective weapons systems in his state-of-the-nation address in March 2018, saying its ability to make sharp manoeuvres on its way to a target would render missile defense useless.

“It heads to target like a meteorite, like a fireball,” he said at the time.

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SOURCE: The Guardian