Rus­sia touts new weapon

Antelope Valley Press - - Second Front -

MOSCOW (AP) — A new in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal weapon that can fly 27 times the speed of sound be­came op­er­a­tional Friday, Rus­sia’s de­fense min­is­ter re­ported to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, bol­ster­ing the coun­try’s nu­clear strike ca­pa­bil­ity.

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.

De­fense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu in­formed Putin that the first mis­sile unit equipped with the Avan­gard hy­per­sonic glide ve­hi­cle en­tered combat duty.

“I con­grat­u­late you on this land­mark event for the mil­i­tary and the en­tire na­tion,” Shoigu said later dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with top mil­i­tary lead­ers.

The Strate­gic Mis­sile Forces chief, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, said dur­ing the call that the Avan­gard was put on duty with a unit in the Oren­burg re­gion in the south­ern Ural Moun­tains.

Putin un­veiled the Avan­gard among other prospec­tive weapons sys­tems in his state-of-the-na­tion ad­dress in March 2018, not­ing that its abil­ity to make sharp ma­neu­vers on its way to a tar­get will ren­der mis­sile de­fense use­less.

“It heads to tar­get like a me­te­orite, like a fire­ball,” he said at the time.

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