Russian President Vladimir Putin oversees new hypersonic glide missile test
Russian President Vladimir Putin has overseen a test of a new hypersonic glide vehicle, declaring that the weapon is impossible to intercept and will ensure Russia’s security for decades to come.
- Mr Putin said the new system has an intercontinental range
- He said it could fly at 20 times the speed of sound, bypassing enemy missile defence
- It can withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius
Speaking to Russia’s top military brass after watching the live feed of the launch of the Avangard vehicle from the Defence Ministry’s control room, Mr Putin said the successful test was a “great success” and an “excellent New Year’s gift to the nation”.
The test comes amid bitter tensions in Russia-US relations, which have sunk to their lowest level since the Cold War times over the conflict in Ukraine, the war in Syria and the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Mr Putin’s hopes for repairing ties with Washington under President Donald Trump have fizzled amid investigations into Mr Trump’s campaign ties with Russia, and tensions have escalated as the US administration slapped Russia with new waves of sanctions.
The Avangard was among the array of new nuclear weapons that Putin presented in March, saying that Russia had to develop them in response to the development of the US missile defence system that could erode Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
The Kremlin says it successfully hit a practice target 6,000 kilometres away. (AP: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik)
In Wednesday’s test, the weapon was launched from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Ural Mountains.
The Kremlin said it successfully hit a designated practice target on the Kura shooting range on Kamchatka, 6,000 kilometres away.
Mr Putin said the new weapon will enter service next year with the military’s Strategic Missile Forces.
When first presenting the Avangard in March, the Russian leader said the new system had an intercontinental range and could fly in the atmosphere at 20 times the speed of sound, bypassing the enemy’s missile defence.
He emphasised that no other country currently has hypersonic weapons, adding the Avangard is designed using new composite materials to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius that come from a flight through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.