Russia rearms with the hypersonic missile Avangard, “the weapon of the future”

Russia rearms with the hypersonic missile Avangard,
Putin chairs the trial of the new Russian hypersonic missile Avangard in December 2018. (EFE)

The Avangard, which can reach the US in 15 minutes, is one of the ‘superweapons’ presented by Putin during his famous speech on the state of the nation in March 2018

Russia on Friday has put the first intercontinental hypersonic missile, the Avangard strategic system, called “the weapon of the future” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, determined to maintain nuclear parity with the United States.

“This is the weapon of the future, capable of overcoming both the current missile defence systems and those that will be developed from now on,” Putin said this week as he reviewed the development of the new generation weaponry.

Putin, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, was briefed on Friday by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigú about the deployment of such weapons near the Urals, a line of separation between Europe and Asia.

Reach the US in 15 minutes

The Avangard, which can reach US territory in 15 minutes, is one of the ‘superweapons’ presented by Putin during his famous speech on the state of the nation in March 2018, which led many to talk about a new arms race such as the known as “Star Wars”, which condemned the Soviet Union to disappearance.

The entry into service of these missiles also coincides with the pulse between the Kremlin and the White House on the fate of the last disarmament treaty in force between both superpowers, the strategic arms reduction treaty, START III, which expires in 2021 and whose renewal Moscow questioned today.

“I congratulate everyone for this great event for the country and for the Armed Forces,” the defence minister said Friday in a statement.

The Avangard has been stationed at the base that hosts the 13th rocket division in the city of Yasni, Orenburg region, not far from the border with Kazakhstan.

Russian hypersonic exclusivity

Recently, American experts were able to inspect the characteristics and potential of the Avangard during a visit to Russia. It is composed of an intercontinental ballistic rocket and equipped with one or several hypersonic warheads capable of manoeuvring in the vertical and horizontal planes and changing course before reaching its target, which makes it virtually invulnerable.

“No country in the world has hypersonic weapons in general and, even less, hypersonic weapons of continental reach,” Putin said.

In its last trial, a year ago, the Avangard travelled about 6,000 kilometers from the Dombarovski military base in the south of the Ural mountain range to the Kura shooting range on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East.

Beat the speed of sound

According to Putin, The Avangard can reach the densest layers of the atmosphere and exceed 20 times the speed of sound. “It targets the target as a meteorite, like a fireball,” said the Russian president, who acknowledged that Moscow began to develop such a weapon in 2003, that is, just after Washington unilaterally abandoned the missile defence treaty.

In the future, such systems will be launched from a Sarmat intercontinental carrier rocket, which will enter service in 2021 and replace the fearsome Satan. According to experts, the US will still need several years to develop hypersonic weapons such as the Avangard, which is still unparalleled in the world.

“Today we are in a unique position in our new and recent history: they are lagging behind us. If we want to win, (our technology) must be the best in the world. This is not a game of chess where ever we can settle for tables”, he said.

After several years of multi-million dollar investments in rearmament, Putin estimated that modern armament accounts for 82% of the nuclear triad: atomic submarines, intercontinental missiles and strategic aviation.

Renew START III

In turn, he assured that Russia is willing to negotiate new treaties in the field of arms control, although he warned that, as long as that does not happen, he will continue to develop missile systems capable of “containing the aggression against Russia and its allies.”

In fact, Russia is moving forward with the development of weapons such as the Burevestnik (Albatross), nuclear cruise missile of unlimited range, or the Poseidon, an unmanned submarine that travels at great speed and depth.

Putin was referring to START III. US President Donald Trump has made it clear that he is not interested in extending the treaty, although some experts point out that Washington wants a new agreement covering Russian hypersonic armament, which Moscow strictly refuses.

In this regard, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Riabkov has admitted on Friday that he is not sure that Washington will not denounce the START even before it expires in 2021, as it did this year with the INF and short-range missile elimination treaty.