Russia Deploys Its Avangard Glide Vehicle – the Unmatched Leader in Hypersonic Technology

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Written by Andrei Akulov; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

On Oct. 12 CNBC reported that Russia had hit a snag in its development of its hypersonic weapon, because it was at the time unable to find a source for the critical carbon fiber components. The news agency stated that the Pentagon had doubts that the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) existed. Skepticism seems widespread. Some believe that Russia’s new super weapons are “virtual reality,” while others think they are “mostly hype.” In March, the National Interest cited Michael Kofman, a research scientist for the Center for Naval Analyses and a highly respected analyst, who offered his assurances that there was no chance Russia could field its hypervelocity boost-glide weapon by 2019.  But history has shown that those who believed it to be just a bluff have been proven wrong.

Russia Deploys Its Avangard Glide Vehicle – the Unmatched Leader in Hypersonic Technology

According to recent Russian media reports, the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide system, one of the new super weapons that President Putin mentioned in his address to the Federal Assembly in March, went into production last summer and will be operational with the 13th Strategic Missile Forces division by the end of 2019. It will be deployed near Yasny, a town 502 kilometers (312 mi) southeast of Orenburg in the southern Urals, by the end of 2019.

Normally it takes two systems for a regiment to be combat ready by that time, but in this case that number will be increased to six. At least two regiments with six systems each are expected to be battle-ready by 2027. According to the state armaments program (GPV2027), twelve UR-100UTTKh (NATO: SS-19 Stiletto) missiles will be integrated into the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). The deployment of the HGV might begin without additional flight tests. Eventually, the Sarmat RS-28 ICBM could be used to deliver the Avangard, potentially carrying a single, massive thermonuclear warhead with a yield exceeding two megatons.

The boost-glide weapon can fly at speeds of over Mach 20 or about 15,300 miles per hour (four miles per second). It could reach Washington in 15 minutes even if launched from Russia. There is no way to intercept it, as it moves in a cloud of plasma “like a meteorite.”  The weapon is distinctive for its ability to withstand extreme heat during the final phase of its trajectory thanks to its heat-resistant titanium casing. Its in-flight temperature reaches 1,600-2,000° Celsius.

It is impossible to predict the direction of its approach. Installed on the 200-ton Sarmat, the Avangard could be sent into the desired orbit at an altitude of 100 km from Earth using a pre-booster, gliding to its target at a speed of Mach 20 (5-7 km/s) while maneuvering with the help of stabilizers. It can make rapid course changes in the atmosphere.  Its signatures are quite different from those of traditional ICBMs. Advanced countermeasure systems increase its ability to penetrate missile defenses.

The Avangard is the first HGV in the world to have gone into production, as well as the first to travel at great altitude in the dense layers of the atmosphere while deftly maneuvering. According to General John Hyten, head of US Strategic Command, “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us.”

Serial production of Sarmat ICBMs is scheduled to begin in 2021. The UR-100N UTTKn and the Sarmat could carry multiple Avangard glide vehicles.

Other ICBNs, such as the RS-24 Yars and RS-26 Rubezh, can potentially accommodate smaller Avangard-type vehicles should the New START Treaty not be extended.  The tempo of the glide vehicle’s deployment and modernization can be expedited depending on the progress of the talks with the United States on strategic nuclear arms.  Since its trajectory renders the Avangard immune to missile-defense systems, the HGV will become a powerful argument that can be wielded at that round table.

Long-range, high-precision hypersonic glide vehicles can be used in conventional conflicts to deliver prompt global strikes, including against those enemies who possess the air- and missile-defense capabilities to counter aerial targets, cruise missiles, and smaller- and medium-range ballistic missiles. The conventional Avangard can be used with the same efficiency as nuclear delivery vehicles, thus making escalation to a nuclear phase unnecessary under certain circumstances. The HGV does not violate the New START Treaty or any other international agreement.

The announcement of the plans to field the HGV as early as next year prove that Russia was not bluffing. This game-changing weapon not only exists, but is already in production. This is a slam dunk for the Russian defense industry and for those scholars who managed to solve the problem of how to tolerate immense heat during hypersonic flight. The US will have to play catch-up.

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  • RichardD

    Russia’s space program has been a big help to it’s weapons industry. A lot of the technical hurdles needed to navigate space can and have been incorporated into weapons. The S-200 going back 50 years ago was a Mach 9 missile using technology directly gleaned from Russia’s space program. The Russians have built on that and similar accomplishments over the following decades much to their benefit.

  • Tommy Jensen

    Putin´s “Full Spectrum Global Dominance” doctrine, Putin pouring gasoline all over ME, and now this.

    All warnings in MSM were TRUE but you refused to believe in the United States, and thats why you now will lose FREEDOM and our values.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0439c2487b4512fc8f5b26d428cadffed51b6293d82b4a4ba9d9f094c0b623cd.jpg

    • Albano Pina

      I believe these new weapons aren’t able to stop the american ICBM’s, are they ?
      As for the american warinings, why should the civiized world listen to the yelling of a ROGUE nation like the USA is ?

    • Hrky75

      Why would Putin’s FSGD be any worse (or better, to be fair) then US one, that is official American doctrine for at least 2 decades? How can bigger and better Russian strategic deterrent in the present Mutually Assured Destruction situation influence US “freedom and values” – once used, as a response to US first strike as per Russian doctrine, there would be precious little values left on the Globe. And last but not least, and this may come as a shock – most of the world doesn’t really care for “US freedom and values” and most react – negatively – only when they are forced on them by US cruise missiles…

    • AJ

      What are you talking about Putin pouring gasoline all over ME – its the US which has done this since its war on terror campaign started in 2001. Its the US which has destabilsed the ME, invaded Iraq, destroyed Libya & funded insurgency in Syria. Russias new hypersonic weapons are a response to the ring of bases surrounding her with ABM systems. Its the US in policy documents which advocates for a first strike. What would the US do if there were Russian bases in Mexico or Canada or Cuba!

    • Brother Ma

      I gave you a tick only for the cartoon. Your post’s points were not sound.

    • Carol Davidek-Waller

      Full Spectrum dominance is a quote from a paper released by an American ‘think tank’ and has been adopted by the U.S. military, Industial, Intelligence Complex. Most likely the source for this confused comment.
      It’s the U.S. that is tearing up the ME, also part of the plan outlined in the above mentioned paper.
      It’s Russia under Putin’s leadership and at the request of Syria that is opposing this atrocious plan that violates everything that the American nation stands for.

    • Barba_Papa

      Considering that sanction upon sanction gets heaped on Russia by the US, NATO keeps on holding military exercises near its borders, and the world came close to a new Cuba crisis over something so unimportant as an unproven chemical attack in Douma, I’d say that if Putin were to be the puppetmaster that controls Trump that A: he’s not very good at it and B: then he got a piss poor return on his investment in the man.

      As for your nonsense, everything the West accuses Russia of, it does so itself, only 10 times worse. Destabilizing countries? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. Because Ukraine was stable and civil war free until the West helped sponsor the Maidan revolution. Setting up break away republics in other countriy’s territory? Kosovo and now the Kurdish region in Syria. Occupying foreign territory? Syria. Creating a mass refugee crisis? That is something only the West has done.

      The MSM is full of shit. Unlike most people I’m not saying they’re deliberately dishing up falsehoods, but they’re either very eager to swallow any bullshit being told by Western governments and NGO’s to which they are very sympathetic, and/or they have lost any sense of objectivity. They really no longer seem to care about being objective. They have an axe to grind and are not very subtle about it.

  • Jesus

    Avangard can have a conventional or nuclear application, from a conventional standpoint it can be used for prompt global strikes, decapitating and destroying key military targets within US, without raising the threshold to nuclear weapons.

  • iosongasingsing

    Thank God and to the Holy Russia peace and life on earth will be assured for another generation yet.

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    There is a contingent of the unelected U.S. ruling elite that believe Russia to be weak and easily dominated, no matter what the evidence to the contrary.
    Unfortunately for everyone, everywhere they seem to have ear of everyone in the U.S. who has legitimate power.

  • beypuutyina

    and when will we see more than some manga tales?