Russia claims the system is capable of speeds exceeding Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound), and that the missile can perform evasive maneuvers to avoid modern missile defense systems. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declared the test a success. He also said now that testing has completed, the system will be “put into service” in “due time.” It will enter service in 2019. The missile can adjust both altitude and direction. “Russia is the first in the world to receive a new type of strategic weapon and this will reliably ensure the security of our state and of our people for decades to come,” Putin said.
Russian officials acknowledge the test of the weapon
While there was no immediate Pentagon comment on Putin’s announcement Wednesday, American military officials have been skeptical of Russia’s claims regarding the new system. They also appreciated that video footage of the launch doesn’t necessarily prove that Avangard is as unbeatable as Russia says it is. But Putin’s announcement indicates Moscow is still pursuing weapons systems. Besides Russia, the US and China have been working on hypersonic weapons. US Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael D. Griffin told media earlier in December the US could have a “workable defensive capability” against hypersonic weapons by the middle of the next decade.