The Russian state-run news agency TASS reports (source):
Russia’s Avangard strategic silo-based hypersonic missile complex has been included in the state armament plan through 2027 instead of Rubezh intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as a weapon more essential to ensure the country’s defense capability, a source in the domestic defense industry told TASS on Thursday.
“It was initially planned to include both the Avangard and the Rubezh in the state armament plan but it became clear later that funds would not suffice to finance both systems at a time. Therefore, the Avangard was included in the program’s final version as more essential to ensure the country’s defense capability,” the source said.
Owing to the shortfall of funds to simultaneously finance all missile programs of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force, the Barguzin rail-mobile ballistic missile system was excluded from Russia’s new state armament plan for 2018-2027, the source noted.
“All the work on the Rubezh and the Barguzin was put on hold until the end of 2027. A decision on the work’s resumption will be made after the current armament program is fulfilled,” the source said.
TASS has not yet received an official confirmation of this information.
Rubezh and Avangard missile complexes
The RS-26 Rubezh is the project of a road mobile missile complex armed with a small-sized intercontinental solid-propellant ballistic missile with greater precision. The weapon’s development was announced for the first time in March 2013 by Chief Designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology Yuri Solomonov.
In June 2013, Head of the Main Operations Department of Russia’s General Staff Colonel-General Vladimir Zarudnitsky reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the presence of reporters that the missile’s tests had been successful and promised to start deploying it already in 2014. The general mentioned the name of Rubezh as he spoke about the missile.
On February 20, 2018, US President Donald Trump instructed his administration to prepare a special report on whether the Rubezh fell under the restrictions of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and the Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (the New START Treaty). Some US media outlets earlier speculated that the RS-26 could be used at distances of less than 5,500 km, i.e. to operate as an intermediate-range missile.
The Avangard is the project of the strategic ICBM complex armed with a hypersonic glide vehicle. According to open sources, the complex was developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the Moscow Region). The trials of the system’s prototypes started in 1990. The glide vehicle is capable of flying in the dense layers of the atmosphere at hypersonic speed, maneuvering along its flight path and by its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense.