Image by Администрация Президента России
МиГ-31 с гиперзвуковой ракетой «Кинжал
According to Russian media sources, the Russian Ministry of Defense, following a personal order given by president Putin has recently conducted a successful test of the new hypersonic nuclear-capable cruise missile “Avangard”. The missile was fired at a mock target on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The target was successfully destroyed. During the missile flight, it performed hypersonic flight maneuvers in both the vertical and horizontal planes, official Kremlin sources reported. The high hypersonic maneuverability of this weapon system is specifically designed to neutralize American and Israeli anti-missile defenses such as the terminal high altitude anti-missile defense (THAAD) or the Arrow anti-missile complex. Both of these systems rely on the assumption of a substantially ballistic trajectory for incoming enemy missiles at high altitudes, an assumption with which the hypersonic cruising Avangard missile does not comport.
Furthermore, existing missile defenses are very expensive and are sparsely deployed only in those areas from which a ballistically guided enemy missile is likely to come. The Avangard, once again, will not comply with these known trajectories, making its interception by high altitude systems all but impossible. Low altitude systems such as the Israeli Iron Dome, are ineffective against nuclear-tipped missiles since they intercept their targets at altitudes at which a nuclear explosion is as deadly as the enemy planned for it to be. According to the Kremlin, the Avangard development is on schedule for operational deployment. No independent corroboration of the Russian sources is available at this time.