Russia tested a new hypersonic glide missile system today under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, according to reports from Russian state media. The new system, called the Avangard, utilizes an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a hypersonic glide vehicle and is supposed to travel at roughly five times the speed of sound.
The newly designed system, which Russia claims can circumvent all existing missile defense systems in the world, reportedly hit a target at the Kura Missile Test range in the extremely isolated town of Kamchatka in Russia’s far east.
“Putin arrived at the National Defense Control Center and gave the command to start the tests,” the Kremlin’s press office said, according to Russian state propaganda outlet Sputnik. “The launch was conducted by combat troops of the Strategic Missile Forces from the Dombarovsky launch facility.”
The new weapons system, if it works as advertised, would indeed be too nimble for all known anti-missile defense systems. The question is whether it really does work as well as Russia says. According to American experts, once the hypersonic glide vehicle is launched it’s unable to survive the tremendous heat it must endure for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
The Avangard was first announced in March 2018 during President Putin’s annual address to the Federal Assembly, but all we got were animations showing what the system could allegedly do. Those animations also showed the simulated nuking of Florida, it should be noted.
As reported Oliver Carroll pointed out on Twitter, Russian media had more recently claimed success with the missile system and insisted that it was ready to be deployed. President Putin claimed on June 7 that, “the Avangard system is already in the process of its manufacture and has entered its serial production and in 2019 we are planning to deliver it to the Armed Forces.”