A Russian Agency, now a part of Tactical Missiles Corporation (TMC) commenced work on the Avangard hypersonic missile system in 1985 in response to the US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) during the Ronald Reagan era.
“A proposal of the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (RPAM-B) (which later merged with the TMC) began to be implemented in 1985," Company Honorary CEO and Honorary Chief Designer Gerbert Yefremov was quoted as saying today by TASS
The trigger was the simultaneous possession (by the US) of the capabilities for delivering a pre-emptive massive nuclear strike and the systems for intercepting the few remaining enemy missiles. "I can say that [then-US President Ronald] Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initative alarmed the leadership of the Soviet Union," he recalled.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the USSR Council of Ministers issued a resolution, instructing defense enterprises to put forward proposals on measures in response to the US SDI program, the chief designer said.
"I, being the newly appointed chief designer of the RPAMB, using the vast experience of previous R&D work, sent a proposal on practically implementing a very difficult task of making the classical ABM defense system intended for countering ballistic missiles useless," he recalled.
"For this purpose, it was necessary to create a flying vehicle moving at great speeds in the atmosphere and making various maneuvers," Yefremov noted.
After comprehensive considerations, the proposal by the RPAMB began to be implemented in 1985, he said.
"The experimental testing, both ground, bench and flight tests, using UR-100N UTTKh missiles, continued until the early 2000s. Further practical trials that already involved a combat system proceeded under the direct control of President [Vladimir] Putin after the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002," the chief designer said.
Russian President Putin conferred on September 19, the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle -Called with swords- on Yefremov for developing the Avangard hypersonic missile system.
As the Russian president recalled during his talk with Yefremov at the time, large-scale work had been launched in 2004 to implement the chief designer’s ideas. A final test-launch was carried out in December 2018. Therefore, all the trials were successfully completed. The first strategic missile regiment armed with Avangard hypersonic missile systems went on combat duty in December 2019.
The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. The boost-glide vehicle is capable of flying at over 20 times the speed of sound in the dense layers of the atmosphere, constantly modifying its flight path and altitude to breach any anti-missile defense.