Russia is developing a new hypersonic system to replace Avangard

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MOSCOW, ($1=73.93 Russian Rubles) – Russia is developing new hypersonic strategic systems that will replace the Avangard units when the United States finds countermeasures for them. This was announced by the Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces [SMF] Sergei Karakaev on Friday, December 17, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

According to him, the SMF, having launched the Avangard, has received additional combat capabilities. Karakaev also noted that the Americans are not only developing their hypersonic weapons but are also working on ways to neutralize Russian complexes.

“But we need to understand that and go further in hypersonic weapons. Until they find the antidote, we must have found another solution. And today we are working on it. There is development, yes, it is. I think this task is within our power,” the general was quoted as saying by Zvezda TV.

On December 16, military expert Dmitry Kornev told Izvestia that the Zircon hypersonic missile could indeed be launched in 2022. He commented on the launch of a missile from the frigate Admiral of the Soviet Navy Gorshkov on a coastal target.

On November 29, Admiral Gorshkov launched a new test launch of the Zircon hypersonic missile from the White Sea at a range of more than 400 km. The previous launch of the Zircon rocket was carried out by Admiral Gorshkov on November 18 at a naval target from the White Sea. The target was hit by a direct strike.

On November 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Zircon hypersonic missiles would begin arriving in the Navy next year. The head of state added that the ongoing tests confirm the uniqueness of the Peresvet [laser weapons complex] and Avangard complexes. Zircon trials are currently being completed.

In 2018, Russian hypersonic weapons were presented. It includes the Avangard, Dagger [Kinzhal], and Zircon missiles.

About Avangard hypersonic glide missile

Awangard is a stratospheric glide missile that is brought into a low earth orbit [LEO] by ICBMs. It is then decoupled from the rocket and sinks to the upper layers of the atmosphere. On this it glides on an undulating trajectory towards the target area. Once there, it enters the earth’s atmosphere and flies towards the target.

Awangard uses at least two different glide missiles: the 15YU-71 type with a conventional warhead and the smaller 15YU-74 with a nuclear warhead. Depending on the source, the explosive force of this warhead could be 150 kT or 2 MT.

On the computer animations presented by Russia, the gliding missile has a triangular fuselage geometry with an estimated length of 5.4 m. For the launch of the Awangard, Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces use modified UR-100N ICBMs [GURWO index: RS-18, NATO code name: SS-19 Stiletto]. These modified missiles are designated UR-100N-UTTCh or A35-71, with the entire system also being designated 15A35P. In the future, it should also be possible to equip the RS-28 Sarmat ICBM, which is currently under development, with Awangard gliding missiles.

According to Russian information, the gliding missile should be able to maneuver and perform evasive maneuvers. In this flight phase, the gliding missile should reach speeds of Mach 20-27. The frictional heat and the compression create hot plasma on the surface of the missile. This can reach temperatures of 2,000–2,500 degrees Celsius. Such high temperatures make a heat shield indispensable. According to Russian information, this required the development of special composite materials that can withstand these temperatures.

How the missile is controlled and steered has not been published. Since the missile moves close to the earth, the use of an inertial navigation system is conceivable. Since the missile is enclosed in ionized plasma, it is almost impossible for it to send and receive electromagnetic waves. Control by means of a satellite navigation system can be excluded. However, remote control via ultra-short wave would be possible. The attitude control and steering is probably done with control nozzles. There is also speculation about a drive with a scramjet engine.

At a distance of about 500 km from the target, the gliding missile begins to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere. When flying through the earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speed, the gliding missile converts a lot of kinetic energy into heat and continues to heat up. The speed of the missile is reduced to about Mach 14-15. The control in this last phase of flight is probably done with control surfaces.

According to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Strategic Command [USSTRATCOM], John E. Hyten, there is so far no defense against such weapon systems.

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