Russia’s rocket forces loaded an intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with the nuclear-capable “Avangard” hypersonic glide vehicle into a launch silo in southern Russia, according to a defence ministry TV channel broadcast on Thursday.
President Vladimir Putin announced the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle in 2018, saying it was a response to the U.S. development of a new generation of weapons and a U.S. missile defence system that it could penetrate.
As it approaches its target, the Avangard glide vehicle detaches from the rocket and is able to manoeuvre sharply outside the trajectory of the rocket at hypersonic speeds of up to 27 times the speed of sound (about 21,000 miles per hour or 34,000 kilometres per hour).
The ‘Zvezda’ television channel owned by the Russian defence ministry showed a ballistic missile being transported to a launch silo, slowly raised into a vertical position and then lowered into a shaft in the Orenburg region near Kazakhstan.
Russia installed its first Avangard-equipped missile in 2019 at the same Orenburg facility.
Russia and the United States, by far the biggest nuclear powers, have both expressed regret about the steady disintegration of arms-control treaties which sought to slow the Cold War arms race and reduce the risk of nuclear war.
But the United States, Russia and China are developing a range of new weapons systems, including hypersonic ones.