Russia Deploys Hypersonic Missile That Travels at 27 Times the Speed of Sound
A new hypersonic missile that can fly 27 times the speed of sound has entered service Friday, Russia's defense minister reported to President Vladimir Putin.
Called the Avangard, the intercontinental ballistic missile has the capacity to make maneuvers in the atmosphere. This means it is much harder to intercept.
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Can not be intercepted
Putin has said that the new weapon can not be intercepted by existing missile defense systems.
Back in March of 2018, Putin unveiled the Avangard in his state-of-the-nation address and compared it to a meteorite. “It heads to target like a meteorite, like a fireball,” he said at the time.
The Avangard is built to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 Celsius (3,632 Fahrenheit) and carries a nuclear weapon of up to 2 megatons. Russian media have been reporting that the Avangard will first be mounted on Soviet-built RS-18B intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In the meantime, Putin has been boasting about the Avangard. According to a transcript released by Russia on Tuesday, Putin said that "not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons," at a Russian Defense Ministry board meeting.
Other hypersonic weapons
The Ministry of Defense said last month it showcased Avangard's latest developments to U.S. inspectors as part of measures under the New Start nuclear arms treaty. Avangard is not the only hypersonic weapon commissioned by the Russian military.
The Kinzhal entered service with the Russian air force last year and can fly 10 times faster than the speed of sound. Meanwhile, China has been working on its own hypersonic weapon that is believed to be able to travel at least five times the speed of sound.
The U.S. Air Force has also been working on the development of hypersonic weapons awarding a contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a missile earlier this year.