The first Strategic Missile Forces regiment to be armed with the nuclear-capable Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle has entered combat duty, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has confirmed.
“I would like to congratulate every one of us and especially the Strategic Missile Forces. Today, at 10:00 am, the Avangard strategic missile has been put on combat duty. On behalf of all of us, I congratulate everyone with this significant event for our country and for its armed forces,” Shoigu said, speaking in a conference call with President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
Russian Strategic Missile Forces commander Col-Gen Sergei Karakaev confirmed that the first Avangard-armed missile regiment has been stationed at the Yasnensky missile compound in Orenburg region, about 1,200 km southeast of Moscow.
What We Know About the Avangard
The Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle is Russia’s response to several US efforts to render Russia’s traditional ballistic-missile-based strategic deterrent obsolete, including the Pentagon’s so-called ‘Prompt Global Strike’ massed precision-guided conventional airstrike plan, and the Aegis Ashore anti-ballistic missile systems which Washington has constructed in Romania and Poland.
Tracing its origins back to US President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ space-based laser missile defence concept, the Avangard is based around a radically advanced Scramjet engine design, which enables the system to deliver both nuclear and conventional payloads at speeds of up to Mach 20.
Capable of maneuvering while in flight, the system is essentially invulnerable to any existing or prospective missile defence system. This makes it an important element of Russia’s strategic deterrent, guaranteeing a Russian response in the event of aggression against the country.
The Avangard is presently believed to be carried into orbit aboard the R-36M2 intercontinental ballistic missile, although the strategic nuclear forces’ modernisation efforts mean that it will soon be replaced by the RS-28 Sarmat, a new class of missile capable of carrying up to 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) into orbit, from where they separate and proceed to their targets.