In February 2019, Reuters reported that Putin was boasting of being “ready for a Cuban Missile-style crisis” with the United States. Now the Russian President has announced fast-flying Avangard hypersonic missiles, tested to hit a target 3,700 miles away.
According to AP News:
“Putin has described the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle as a technological breakthrough comparable to the 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite. The new Russian weapon and a similar system being developed by China have troubled the United States, which has pondered defense strategies.
The Avangard is launched atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, but unlike a regular missile warhead that follows a predictable path after separation it can make sharp maneuvers in the atmosphere en route to target, making it much harder to intercept.”
The Russian Defense Ministry claims the missiles were in place and ready for combat duty starting December 27 in the Orenburg region of the southern Ural Mountains.
In 2018, Putin said the missiles would be “invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defense means of the potential adversary.”
“It heads to target like a meteorite, like a fireball,” Putin said.
According to Newsweek, Putin called the deadly missiles a “gift” for the New Year.
“The President added that the weapon represents, ‘a great success and a big victory. This is a wonderful, excellent gift for the country for the New Year.'”
U.S. inspectors were recently present for a test of the Avangard missiles, as required by the bilateral nuclear arms control treaty, but that treaty, the New START, expires in 2021.
Anonymous U.S. Intelligence officials told CNBC that the missiles may have caused a fatal accident in Nyonosksa and possibly radiation fallout.
“The Avangard’s development has not been without its problems. According to unnamed U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to CNBC, a nuclear accident near the northwestern town of Nyonoksa in August may have been caused by an Avangard system.
The officials said the accident—which killed five scientists and caused a local radiation spike—may have occurred as researchers tried to retrieve a missile from the seabed after a test.”
On December 27, 2018, Putin appeared on CNN, and had this to say about the missile system:
“The new Avangard missile system is invincible against today’s and future errant missile defense systems of the potential enemy. This is a big success and a great achievement,” boasted Putin.
The missiles may be capable of flying 27 times faster than the speed of sound. Since the speed generates so much heat, new composite materials were developed, which can withstand temperatures as high as 3,632 Fahrenheit.
In 2018, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said that U.S. radar systems would not be able to detect the missiles from a great distance. In August 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “it’s probably a matter of a couple of years” before the U.S. has missiles with the same capabilities as the Avangard system.
Russia has also been testing Poseidon nuclear-powered torpedos that can travel 6,000 miles at 3,000 feet underwater at 100 miles per hour.
Newsweek noted that Putin is claiming this is “the first time Russia is leading the world in developing an entire new class of weapons, unlike in the past when it was catching up with the U.S.”
As we enter the New Year, it’s alarming to think that any world leader considers invincible deadly weapons that could destroy all life on the planet a “gift.”
Instead, let’s hope that we can all help make 2020 a more peaceful and more prosperous year for all –Now that would be a gift.
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube