Russia is expediting the development of its Avangard hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) which could pose a significant threat to the US. President Putin sees the development of the missile systems as an immediate priority.
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First mentioned by Putin in March of 2018, the Avangard HGV can be carried as MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) payloads by the UR-100UTTKh, R-36M2 and RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBMs.
According to a BBC report, the first regiment of Avangard hypersonic missiles was put into service in December 2019. Considered one of Russia’s most advanced weapons, the Avangard can deliver both nuclear as well as conventional payloads.
Russian weapons of mass destruction, including the nuclear-capable devices that are being developed to evade American missile defenses, would increase the headache of the Pentagon.
Reports suggest the Biden administration is looking to take a tougher stance against Russia due to the country’s alleged role in a massive cyber espionage campaign against the US government. Washington has also taken strong exception to the arrest of Russia’s opposition leader and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
On the other hand, Washington’s continuous effort towards developing missile defense systems is seen by Moscow as “dangerous and destabilizing”, one of the reasons why Russia is carrying out work on its Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV).
“The unconstrained pursuit of missile defense has encouraged Russia to develop multiple new types of nuclear options to attack the United States and pushed China to expand and improve its nuclear arsenal,” said Laura Grego, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a science advocacy organization.
“This dynamic must change because it is a roadblock to achieving meaningful nuclear arms reductions,” she said.
According to reports, the Avangard can fly at a hypersonic speed of up to Mach 27 or 27 times the speed of sound — around 32,000 kilometers per hour.
Such an extreme speed is reported to have been made possible through the use of “new composite materials,” which allowed it to stay within a stable range of 1,600 to 2,000 degrees Celsius.
Russia's hypersonic missile system #Avangard enters combat duty https://t.co/slCJREF10t pic.twitter.com/VwQqGwiMFn
— RT (@RT_com) December 27, 2019
The hypersonic glide vehicle can travel through the dense layers of the atmosphere with its unique maneuvering capability making it difficult for enemy forces to predict its trajectory.
This enables the HGV to protect itself from air and ballistic missile defenses, and deliver nuclear warheads at targets without being intercepted. Such a combination of high speed and fast maneuverability helps it breach any anti-missile defense.
Russia has ramped up efforts to develop its ICBMs. Its Strategic Missile Force will receive 13 launchers equipped with the latest Yars and Avangard ICBMs this year alone.
The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that additional funds have been allocated for the production of the systems.
“In 2021, the Defense Ministry will deal with a number of priority rearmament tasks. It will have to put 13 launchers with Yars and Avangard intercontinental ballistic missiles on combat duty in the Strategic Missile Force,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on February 15 during the ministry’s board meeting.
“Additional funds allocated for the production of these systems will help reach the level of the strategic nuclear forces’ provision with advanced weapons at 88.3 percent.”