Escalating the threat against Western involvement in the Ukraine conflict, Moscow announced that its second regiment, with the intercontinental hypersonic “Avangard” missile system, has entered combat duty in the Orenburg region Saturday.
“Today, a yet another regiment armed with the Avangard missile system was put on combat duty at the Yasnenskoye missile formation, becoming a true present for the Day of the Strategic Missile Force,” Russia’s defense ministry said, as reported by state news agency TASS.
The deployment made at the Yasnenskoye missile formation in the Orenburg region in the southern Urals comes as a major boost for the combat capabilities of the country’s Strategic Missile Forces.
Speaking about the missile system, Putin had in his March 2018 address to the federal assembly described the Avangard as a system that “flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire.”
The first regiment of Avangard hypersonic missile systems was deployed on combat duty in December 2019 in the Dombarovsky division of the Strategic Missile Force, also in the Orenburg region in the Urals.
Developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building, the Avangard, which was first tested in 2004, is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. As it is a hypersonic glide vehicle, it can be fired by various ICBMs, including the country’s newest and most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, the RS-28 Sarmat.
The Avangard is designed to sit atop an ICBM which uses aerodynamic forces to sail above the atmosphere. Traveling at hypersonic speeds of up to Mach 27 (about 20,000 miles per hour), the glide vehicle system is capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional payloads.
Russia claims that the system’s maneuverability and versatility make it unpredictable and able to deliver nuclear warheads to targets, such as Europe and the U.S. while avoiding air and ballistic defenses.
Boasting about the missile system, Russian President Vladimir Putin had claimed that the weapon was “capable of performing sharp maneuvers on its way to targets, making it absolutely invulnerable for any missile defense system.”
Significantly, the latest deployment comes at a time when Japan and the U.S. are considering conducting joint research to develop technology that will enable them to intercept the hypersonic glide weapons being developed by Russia and China.
According to experts, existing missile defense systems are incapable of intercepting hypersonic missiles due to their speed and unpredictable flight path. Therefore, the effort is to develop technology that will intercept hypersonic weapons in the gliding stage before they descend to altitudes and make it impossible for existing defense systems to respond.