Russia can produce “only a few” Avangard hypersonic vehicles, an anonymous source familiar with a US intelligence report told the CNBC.
According to the unnamed source, Russia was having difficulties finding a source for some critical carbon fiber components needed to produce the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle.
“It’s expected that they will make no more than 60 of these hypersonic weapons because it’s just proving to be too expensive to develop,” the anonymous source told CNBC.
It should be reminded that 60 hypersonic weapons are still infinitely more than the US’ 0.
Moscow is prioritizing the Avangard and it is expected to enter into operation by 2020.
This was reinforced by a different anonymous source, cited by the CNBC who said that a different report said it was likely for it to actually be completed by 2020.
The report that the lack of carbon fiber may impact production of the Avangard is an old one, since in October 2018, CNBC, once again, cited an anonymous source which claimed that the Kremlin was struggling to find a source.
“The body of the hypersonic glide vehicle cannot withstand the heat on re-entry, and therefore the internal systems fail,” this person explained to CNBC. “The Russians therefore need a better material because they have an upcoming test and they don’t think the material used to construct the body provides enough thermal protection.”
Russia expects the carbon fiber components to be produced within 12 months of selection and still expects to meet its 2020 deadline, according to the same anonymous source.
“It’s intriguing that they continue to run into problems, because they’ve been flight-testing this system for a long time,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.
“They’re running into the same problems that anyone else would run into if they would do this, and it gets back to the issue, of course, how important is this for Russia?” he added
The Avangard is one of 6 weapons Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in his address on March 1st, 2018.
He said that the weapon could reach speeds of up to Mach 27.
The latest flight test occurred on 26 December 2018 when Avangard, carried on top of the UR-100UTTKh ICBM, was launched from the Dombarovsky Air Base and subsequently hit a target at the Kura Missile Test Range.
Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said that the weapon had flown at Mach 27, which makes it impossible to intercept.
“The latest tests have shown that it has reached speeds close to 30 Machs. Practically at these speeds, no anti-missile can knock it down,” Borisov said.
Regardless, MSM reports based on nothing but “reliable anonymous sources” continue to claim that Russia’s hypersonic weapon technology is failing and are attempting to mock it. But the reality of the situation is that, failing or not – at least it has operation hypersonic technology to show for something. In the light of these reports, it’s unclear that Russia has carbon fiber to work on an environmentally-friendly space rocket, but can’t use it on the Avangard.
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