Russia: Putin Oversees Hypersonic Missile Test in Crimea

On Wednesday, Trump announced in his speech regarding the Iran strike on U.S. military assets in Iraq that the U.S. is building hypersonic missiles

Russian anti-submarine corvette Muromets fires during the joint drills of the Northern and Black Sea fleets in the Black Sea, off the coast of Crimea, January 9, 2020.
SPUTNIK/Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw military exercises near Crimea on Thursday, which included the launch of the hypersonic 'Kinzhal' missile, the TASS news agency reported.

Russia deployed its first hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles at the end of 2019.

Just the day before, U.S. President Donald Trump announced in his speech regarding the Iran strike on U.S. military assets in Iraq that the U.S. is building hypersonic missiles. 

"Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast. Under construction are many hypersonic missiles," Trump said. "The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent."

Russia deployed its first regiment of hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles in December according to the Defence Ministry said, a move which Putin has boasted puts his country in a class of its own.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has informed Putin of the deployment, his ministry said in a statement, which did not say where the missiles were located.

The new system, called Avangard, comprises a hypersonic glide vehicle which is designed to sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, one of several new types of weapons touted by Putin as being ahead of their time.

Putin has said that Russia's new generation of nuclear weapons can hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield, though some Western experts have questioned how advanced some of the weapons programmes are.

Putin said at the time the Avangard system could penetrate both existing and any future missile defence systems.

"Today, we have a unique situation in our new and recent history. They (other countries) are trying to catch up with us. Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons," said Putin.

Hypersonic glide vehicles are boosted aloft on a rocket to heights of between 40 km (25 miles) and 100 km (62 miles) above the earth before detaching to glide along the upper atmosphere towards their target, say researchers.

Control surfaces on glide vehicles mean they can steer an unpredictable course and manoeuvre sharply as they approach impact. They also follow a much flatter and lower trajectory than the high, arching path of a ballistic missile.

That makes them much harder to detect early with radar, giving missile defences less time to respond, say researchers.