On March 20, the Russian state-run news agency TASS provided more details about the country’s state of the art Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles (source):
Soviet-made UR-100N UTTKh (NATO reporting name: SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) will be the first carriers for hypersonic glide vehicles of Russia’s most advanced Avangard missile system, a source in the Russian defense industry told TASS on Tuesday.
“In the early 2000s, about 30 UR-100N UTTKh liquid-propellant missiles were delivered from Ukraine for the ‘gas debt.’ After the disintegration of the USSR, they were kept at warehouses in their unfueled condition, i.e. they were actually new and capable of going on combat duty to serve for several dozen years. A part of these missiles will become the carriers of the first series of hypersonic glide vehicles in the next few years,” the source said.
“With the acceptance of heavy RS-28 Sarmat missiles for service, such vehicles will be mounted on them as well,” the source added.
Speaking about the combat characteristics of the new hypersonic glide vehicle, the source noted that the yield of the nuclear warhead mounted on it – “over 2 megatonnes in TNT equivalent” – was quite enough to fully destroy “especially important targets.”
Today the yield of the armament of strategic nuclear carriers in Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and other countries normally does not exceed 1 megatonne. The world’s most powerful weapon was tested in the Soviet Union in 1961: the AN-602 thermonuclear air bomb had a yield of 58 megatonnes.
TASS has not yet received an official confirmation of the information provided by the source.
Avangard and UR-100N UTTKh missiles
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said earlier that the Defense Ministry had signed a contract on the production of the Avangard hypersonic strategic system. The new weapon was mentioned for the first time by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1.
Russia’s Strategic Missile Force Commander Sergei Karakayev later specified that the trials of the Avangard hypersonic missile system had been successfully completed.
The Avangard is a strategic ICBM system carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle. According to open sources, the complex was developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the town of Reutov, the Moscow Region) and was tested from 2004. 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.
The new complex is expected to go on combat duty no later than 2019, after its test launch is conducted successfully, another source in the defense industry told TASS earlier. As the source also said, the number of missile divisions within Russia’s Strategic Missile Force will not increase: the most advanced systems will arrive for the existing missile formations.
The UR-100N UTTKh (SS-19 Stiletto) missile is a heavy upgrade of the UR-100 missile complex developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s by the Design Bureau-52 led by Vladimir Chelomei. It was accepted for service in 1980. Currently, Russia’s Strategic Missile Force operates 30 silo-based missiles of this type, according to open sources. The missile has a takeoff weight of about 100 tonnes and a throw weight of around 4.5 tonnes.