December 27, 2019

Russia claims to have deployed Avangard hypersonic missiles that cannot be intercepted
Russia says it has deployed its first hypersonic missiles which President Putin claims are capable of transporting nuclear warheads at 27 times the speed of sound. The location of the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle has not been confirmed but has been widely reported to be the Urals, a mountain range in western Russia. Sergei Shoigu, Russia's defence minister confirmed that the missiles entered service at 10am Moscow time on Friday, describing their deployment as a "landmark event".  Vladimir Putin said that the missiles put Russia ahead of the rest of the world. "Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons," he said, arguing that the West was "playing catch-up with us". "The Avangard is invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defence means of the potential adversary." Vladimir Putin said that the West is now "playing catch-up" Credit: REUTERS Moscow said the Avangard is launched on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile but it can make sharp manoeuvres on the way to its target, making it more difficult to intercept. The Russian government had announced the missiles last year and in March 2018 Mr Putin likened the missile to a "meteorite" and a "fireball" in a state address. The Avangard, which Mr Putin said could penetrate current and future missile defence systems, can carry a nuclear weapon of up to two megatons. The Pentagon responded to the deployment by saying it would "not characterise the Russian claims" about the Avangard's capabilities. The United States has its own hypersonic missile programme, as does China, which in 2014 said it had carried out a test flight. The US has been developing hypersonic weapons in recent years. In August, Mark Esper, the defence secretary, said the Pentagon was some years from deploying its own missiles.
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