Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday announced his country had successfully tested a new hypersonic missile named Avangard, which he claimed is impossible to intercept. Putin made the announcement from the National Defence Control Centre in Moscow where he watched a live feed of the missile tests.
The new development comes to be known at a time when Russia's relations with the United States are at their lowest level since the Cold War.
Putin said the Avangard was an excellent New Year's gift to the nation.
Wednesday's test involved launching an Avangard missile from the Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Ural Mountains to hit a practice target on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east of Russia, 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) away.
The Avangard is invulnerable to interception by any existing and prospective missile defense means of the potential adversary, Putin said, adding that it could be deployed from next year with the military's Strategic Missile Forces.
Analysts say Putin’s flaunting of Avangard’s hypersonic capabilities pointed to his ambition to position Russia as a global military leader together with the US and China. And while no other nation, including the United States, has announced the possession of such a system, both Washington and Beijing are said to be currently researching and testing hypersonic weapons.
Meanwhile, the flight development tests of Russia’s most advanced RS-28 Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) are expected to start from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in north Russia in the second quarter of 2019, according to Russian newsagency TASS.
The Sarmat’s flight development tests are planned to be launched from the second quarter of next year, the source quoted by TASS said.
During the tests from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome and from the base of the Uzhur missile division stationed in the Krasnoyarsk Region in East Siberia snd trials are expected to be completed by 2020.
The RS-28 Sarmat is the Russian advanced silo-based system with the heavy liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile. It has been in the process of its development since the 2000s to replace the R-36M2 Voyevoda ICBM.
It weighs about 200 tonnes and has a throw weight of around 10 tonnes. The media reported in late December 2017 about the first successful pop-up test of the Sarmat ICBM.