Edition: January 1st 2019, Written By: Charlotte van den Berg
Vladimier Putin’s “excellent New Year’s gift” to Russia, according to the strongman, makes Russia the first nation in the world to possess strategic hypersonic nuclear weapons. These will ensure the security of the country and its people “for decades to come,” Putin stated according to the major state-run TASS News agency.
Christened Avangard, the new generation of nuclear missile is somewhat a response to the U.S. missile defence system, which could allegedly sabotage Russia’s entire nuclear deterrent. The new missile was first introduced to the world last March, during a Putin address to the Parliament of Russia in which he claimed that the upcoming weapon, which is set to be entered into service in 2019, will be “practically invulnerable.”
Such announcement prompted geopolitical intelligence website Stratfor to declare hypersonic weapons destabilizing. Four-star general and head of U.S. Strategic Command John Hyten warned in March, when the Avangard news broke, that the U.S. satellites responsible for detecting missiles don’t have the capacity to detect weapons like Avangard.
In accordance with the Kremlin, Avangard has the capacity to withstand serious temperatures rising up to 2,000 degrees Celsius using new composite materials. Such high temperatures are consequences of flying through the atmosphere in hypersonic speed. The Russian president also claimed the missile has an intercontinental range, with the capacity to move 20 times the speed of sound while circumventing a potential target’s defense systems.
Among other things, the Avangard comes after the escalation of tension between Russia and the West, following Russia’s alleged poisoning of former Russian officer and double agent for the UK's Intelligence Services Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, and following allegations of Russian meddling in 2016 U.S. presidential elections. These have resulted in greater sanctions on Russia, thus heightened tensions.
After a test at Dombarobskiy missile base in the Ural Mountains, the Kremlin confirmed Avangard's success in hitting its target in Kamchatka, 6,000 kilometres away. Subsequently, Putin was quoted claiming "the Avangard is invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defense means of the potential adversary."