Yesterday, we reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin supervised the final test launch of a new hypersonic missile system that he alleges can evade US missile defenses will be deployed in 2019, as part of Russia's military modernization effort. "This is a great success and a big victory. This is a wonderful, excellent gift for the country for the New Year," Putin said.
"Russia was forced to develop the Avangard (hypersonic glider) after the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002," Putin explained, adding, "the Trump administration's plan to scrap a treaty on medium-range missiles could lead to a new arms race."
Putin had previously announced the hypersonic missile project back in March, when he first praised its abilities at the annual state of the nation speech to the Federal Assembly. At the time, he said the glider could travel at Mach 20.
Besides that, not much information has been publicly released about the hypersonic glider, but Russia made it known Wednesday that the final test was completed and deployment was imminent for 2019.
Shortly after the test, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov told Rossiya 24 TV channel that the new glider could strike a target at 30,000 km/h or 19,000 mph, reported RT. Borisov said the excellent mobility makes the Avangard one of the hardest targets to hit. He explained: “There’s almost no missile that can shoot it down at such speeds.”
It is tough for missile defense systems to predict the glider’s trajectory, which means the glider can penetrate Western missile shields without a problem. "Any missile defense becomes useless, it is very tough to detect and hit the projectile,” Borisov said.
During the Wedsenday test, the defense ministry said the Avangard glider was fired from the Dombarovsky site in southern Russia and struck a target at a missile range in the Kamchatka Peninsula. The weapon performed in-flight maneuvers and accurately hit its intended target.
A video was released by the ministry showing the first phase of the test, when the Avangard glider was launched. The missile's job was to catapult the hypersonic glider into the atmosphere; the ministry did not release footage of the glider smashing into a target at Mach 20.