TechPutin touts Avangard hypersonic weapon as unstoppable by U.S. defences

Putin touts Avangard hypersonic weapon as unstoppable by U.S. defences

Russian intercontinental ballistic missile launcher
Russian intercontinental ballistic missile launcher
Images source: © Mil.ru
5:13 PM EDT, March 16, 2024
The Russian president has once again publicly threatened the West with hypersonic weapons, singling out the hypersonic glide vehicle Avangard as proof of Russia's purported superiority. What exactly is this weapon, and what can it do?

According to Vladimir Putin, Avangard "nullifies" American missile defence, claiming that the investments the US has made in antimissile systems have been rendered futile, as Avangard can penetrate these defences and hit any target.

Avangard's Capabilities

Though it's tempting to dismiss these claims as mere propaganda aimed at intimidating the West, it must be acknowledged that Avangard does exist. However, its precise technical specifications are either unknown or haven't been convincingly validated.

Reportedly, Avangard's edge lies in its incredible speed—capable of reaching Mach 27—and its ability to execute complex manoeuvres in both vertical and horizontal planes.

Avangard falls under the HGV (Hypersonic Glide Vehicle) category, meaning it is dispatched atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, such as the UR-100NUTTH, R-36M2, or RS-28 Sarmat. Its payload could be either conventional or nuclear.
Once launched, Avangard is carried aloft by the missile. Following this, the warhead detaches and — while descending — heads toward its target. After this separation, Avangard lacks any propulsion of its own but, travelling at high velocities, it can still maneuver. According to Russian claims, this capability supposedly gives it an upper hand against antimissile systems.

Russian Hypersonic Weapons

Hypersonic weapons have long been Vladimir Putin's preferred method of intimidation. Russia dedicates significant resources to the development and manufacture of various hypersonic missiles, which, as per the Kremlin's portrayal, cannot be stopped by current antiaircraft defences.

However, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has quickly debunked much of this narrative. While Russian-made antiaircraft systems, like Ukraine's S-300, have had difficulties intercepting very fast missiles, Western systems, such as the Patriot or IRIS-T SLM, have successfully intercepted both Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missiles and 3M22 Zircon.
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