During a Valdai Club session in Sochi on October 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that new Avangard hypersonic glider warheads are just months away from entering military service.
“Responding to the development of anti-ballistic missile systems by the US, we are improving our strike capabilities. Some are already in service, others will be deployed soon,” the President stated adding that Avangard deployment will happen “within several months”.
Putin emphasized that Russia is the first in the world to develop such technology.
“We know for certain, it’s an obvious fact and our colleagues realize it, that we surpassed all our competitors in this area. Nobody has precise hypersonic weapons. Some plan to test theirs in 18 to 24 months. We have them in service already,” he said.
The development of a future ICBM with a brand-new payload type in the form of a gliding vehicle was the real technological breakthrough. The testing of Avangard has been successfully concluded. According to available information, Avangard can reach the top speed of Mach 20 and is one of the possible payload options for Sarmat.
The warhead can fly in dense layers of the atmosphere over intercontinental distances, while performing evasive dog-legs both horizontally (up to several thousand kilometers) and vertically. Specialists assess that the Avangard has not only an aerodynamic control system but also a propulsion system to be able to perform such maneuvers.
In spite of flying in a plasma cloud, the warhead can receive signals from its command center. It used to be an impossible task, since plasma blocks radio waves. Another challenge that was successfully overcome was the problem of heat insulation. It cannot be ruled out that the Avangard uses new generation high-temperature ceramic composites that use silicon carbide, capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 2,000 C. By mid-March it was announced that the first Avangard carriers would become the UR-100N UTTKh (SS-19 Stiletto) ICBMs that will most likely become part of the RS-24 Yars strategic missile system. About 30 of these missiles were delivered from Ukraine in the early ‘00s to cover natural gas debts. After the Soviet break-up, they were stored un-fueled. Once Sarmat is adopted, it too will carry Avangard warheads. The Russian MOD already signed a contract for serial delivery of Avangards, and they will enter line service in the near future.