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Putin heralds successful tests of Russia’s new Avangard hypersonic nuclear weapons

Russian president says new weapon will ensure Russia’s security ‘for decades to come’

Oliver Carroll
Wednesday 26 December 2018 16:56 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin oversees test of hypersonic glide vehicle

Russian president Vladimir Putin has announced the successful final testing of a new hypersonic nuclear-capable weapon.

Speaking at an end-of-year meeting with the government on Wednesday, Mr Putin said the weapon, named “Avangard”, had been launched from Orenburg region in European Russia, hitting its target in eastern Kamchatka nearly 4,000 miles away.

It was an event, he said, that would be felt beyond national borders, an “event not only for our army but for our country”.

“Russia has developed a new kind of strategic missile,” he said, before adding the weapons were already in production and would be delivered to the army as early next year.

The Avangard glide vehicle is one of six weapons announced in the president’s State of the Nation speech on the eve of his March re-election.

Designed to sit on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile, it came with a number of hefty promises: it would boast speeds of 20 times the sound of speed; capacity to manoeuvre unexpectedly along its flight path; and invincibility when it comes to missile defence shields.

Mr Putin suggested that no other country would be able to develop anything similar, and the new weapon would ensure the country’s security “for decades.”

But it was not the first time that “final” tests had been reported. Nor was it the first time the president had claimed the system had successfully entered serial production. These came in the March address earlier this year.

Within a few weeks of the March address, it was reported Russia was still having difficulty sourcing carbon fibre components.

Earlier this year, military expert Igor Sutyagin suggested to The Independent that Mr Putin’s March list amounted to little more than a “horror story.” Production lines, finance and technology stood in the way of making the weapons an immediate threat, he said.

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