The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has test fired a hypersonic intercontinental strategic missile Avangard that can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads.
Russia’s hypersonic missile system will enter service in the Armed Forces next year, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying by Haaretz on Wednesday.
"Starting from next year, in 2019, a new intercontinental strategic system Avangard will enter service in the Russian army and the first regiment in the Strategic Missile Troops will be deployed," Putin said.
The hypersonic missile can fly 20 times the speed of sound and has an intercontinental range.
"The scheduled period for placing the lead regiment on combat duty is the end of 2019. Initially, the regiment will comprise at least two systems but eventually their number will rise to their organic quantity of six units," Tass had reported in October this year.
The Russian Defence Ministry had signed a contract for the mass production of the Avangard strategic missile system in March this year. Details of the new weapon were first confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1.
Putin added that the weapon can change both its course and its altitude en route to a target, making it "absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defense means."
Avangard has been designed using new composite materials to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 Celsius (3,632 Fahrenheit) resulting from a flight through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, Putin said.
Currently, Russia’s Strategic Missile Force operates 30 silo-based missiles of this type, according to open sources. The missile has a takeoff weight of about 100 tonnes and a throw weight of around 4.5 tonnes.