Tags: russia | hypersonic weapon | vladimir putin | defense experts

Russia Hypersonic Weapon May Be Ready For War By 2020

Russia Hypersonic Weapon May Be Ready For War By 2020

By    |   Wednesday, 16 May 2018 08:24 AM

Russia's deadly hypersonic glide vehicle weapon will be ready for war by 2020, and the United States' missile defense system is currently unable to defend against it, experts are warning.

"These kind of boost glide vehicles attack the gaps in our missile defense system," Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC, adding that it is "unfortunate that we have let Russia come this far."

Moscow has been developing the weapon over the past 30 years. It can either carry a nuclear warhead or can be used itself in a direct attack.

"There's no time like the present to modify our current missile defense posture," Karako said.

According to other sources speaking under the condition of anonymity, Russia successfully tested its hypersonic glide vehicle twice in 2016, but a third known test failed after the weapon crashed just seconds before it hit its target. A fourth test is expected this summer.

Russia also tested a hypersonic missile, the Kinzhal, this March, launching it from a MiG-31 fighter jet. The country's defense ministry released a video of two pilots taking off, and then showed the missile launching from the jet.

The hypersonic glide vehicle, Avangard, meanwhile, glides on the top of the atmosphere, through the use of aerodynamic forces, and can be outfitted with explosives, including a nuclear warhead.

One source told CNBC that one U.S. intelligence report showed the hypersonic glide vehicles had been mounted, for the tests, to Russian SS9 intercontinental ballistic missiles. One of the tests included having the hypersonic vehicle carrying a mock warhead.

The Avangard is deadly even when when it does not carry explosives, because of its precision and speed. It travels at least five times the speed of sound, covering about one mile every second.

In addition to being difficult to track because they are highly maneuverable, the Russian hypersonic glide vehicles contain onboard countermeasures that allow them to defeat advanced missile defense systems.

Just last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin watched jets carrying a hypersonic missile fly over as part of a Red Square parade that marked the Soviet Union's victory over the Nazis in World War II.

In March, during his state-of-the-nation address, the Russian president also bragged that his nation has an arsenal of  "invincible" hypersonic nuclear weapons, and said the Avangard "strikes like a fireball."

"I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country's development," he said at the time. "You have failed to contain Russia."

He then showed video clips of the weapons, including a simulated strike on the United States.

Also in March, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States has no "defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us."

Meanwhile, the $11.5 billion that has been allocated for the Missile Defense Agency may not be enough money to modernize U.S. missile defense systems, even though it's a step in the right direction, said Karako.

"The thing that is missing from the FY18 omnibus and the FY19 request is space sensors," Karako said in a prior interview with CNBC. "So tick tock, people, time is running out. The time for studies is over. Where is the plan to actually field some space sensors?"

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Russia's deadly hypersonic glide vehicle weapon will be ready for war by 2020, and the United States' missile defense system is currently unable to defend against it, experts are warning.
russia, hypersonic weapon, vladimir putin, defense experts
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2018-24-16
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 08:24 AM
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