The Russian Defence Ministry, on special orders from President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday conducted a successful final test launch of a new hypersonic glide missile system ahead of its official deployment in 2019, according to reports from Russian state media. The new weapon, called the Avangard, uses an intercontinental ballistic missile and a hypersonic glide vehicle and can travel 20 times the speed of sound.
In Wednesday's field exercise, the hypersonic weapon was launched from the Dombarovsky Air Base in the southern Ural Mountains. Moscow said the missile successfully struck a designated practice target on the Kura Missile Test Range, more than 3,700 miles away.
“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 media outlet Sputnik. “The launch was conducted by combat troops of the Strategic Missile Forces from the Dombarovsky launch facility.”
Kremlin's press-service said: "Putin thanked the creators of Avangard, the test participants and the Ministry of Defense for their excellent work, adding that the hypersonic missile will be "put into service with the Strategic Missile Forces in due time."
The capabilities of the winged glider allow it to bypass the coverage area of American and NATO missile defense systems.
Putin introduced the Avangard, which was among a list of new technologies presented in March, saying the hypersonic missile cannot be intercepted. The Russian president said the Avangard has an intercontinental range and can fly in the atmosphere at 20 times the speed of sound. He said, "it heads to target like a meteorite, like a fireball."
The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of Wedensday's missile launch which deployed the Avangard hypersonic glider during its final trial. The weapon will enter service next year.