Russia has reportedly placed the first ‘Avangard’ hypersonic missiles into service, according to state media.
Avangard is a hypersonic glide vehicle designed to be carried as a payload by the UR-100UTTKh, RS-26 Rubezh and RS-28 Sarmat super-heavy ICBM. Avangard can presumably reach speeds up to Mach 20 and can be used to deliver nuclear and conventional payloads.
“The first missile regiment equipped with latest strategic missiles with the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle entered service at 10 am Moscow time on December 27”, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told a meeting in televised remarks.
Defence officials had earlier said that the first Avangard regiment was placed in the Orenburg region in the Urals.
“This is the first intercontinental ballistic missile with the hypersonic glide vehicle in the world,” Vasily Kashin, a senior research fellow at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, told press.
When approaching a target, the glider is capable of sharp high speed horizontal and vertical evasive maneuvers in flight, which Russian officials claim makes it “invulnerable to any missile defence system.”
Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis of the Institute of International Studies expressed scepticism towards Avangard’s ability to evade missile defences, stating that “gliding results in slower speeds than traditional re-entry.”