Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told Russian state television that the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle flies 27 times faster than the speed of sound, making it impossible to intercept.
He added that the new weapon “essentially makes missile defenses useless.”
In test, the weapon was launched from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Ural Mountains. The Kremlin said it successfully hit a practice target on the Kura shooting range on Kamchatka, 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) away.
Borisov spoke a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw the Avangard’s reportedly successful test and hailed it as a reliable guarantee of Russia’s security for decades to come.
The Defense Ministry released footage from the test launch, in which a ballistic missile could be seen blasting from a silo in a cloud of smoke, but it hasn’t released any images of the vehicle itself.
Putin said the Avangard will enter service with the Russian Strategic Missile Forces next year.
Sergei Ivanov, a former Russian defense minister, said in televised comments that the Avangard constantly changes its course and altitude as it flies through the atmosphere. He emphasized that unlike previous nuclear warheads fitted to intercontinental ballistic missiles that follow a predictable trajectory allowing it to calculate the spot where they can be intercepted, the Avangard chaotically zigzags on its path to its target, making it impossible to predict the weapon’s location.
Putin Watches Succesful Launch Of Russia’s New INVINCIBLE Hypersonic AVANGARD Missile
A smiling Ivanov likened the weapon’s flight through the atmosphere to a pebble skipping off the surface of water. Ivanov, who now serves as Putin’s adviser, said the Avangard could be fitted to the Soviet-made UR-100U T TK h intercontinental ballistic missile, which is code-named SS-19 Stiletto by NATO.
“The Avangard has cost hundreds of times less than what the U.S. has spent on its missile defense,” Ivanov said.
He noted that Russia began to develop the Avangard after the 2002 U.S. withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and started to develop defenses against ballistic missiles.