Russia confirmed the deployment of its Avangard hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday. Ahead of the deployment, the country had shown its missile system to the US inspectors as a part of bilateral arms control treaty between the two countries. The Avangard has the ability to evade US missile defense systems. This changes the threat perception of various countries across the globe.

The Russian confidence has since changed about penetrating another country's counter abilities. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the glide vehicle entered into force at 10:00 AM Moscow time on Friday, December 27. It is being seen as a landmark event. No other country possesses a hypersonic glide vehicle. The vehicle's range is seen to be in the minimum range of 5,500 kilometers.

Chinese Concept Hypersonic Glide Vehicle
Representational Image Wikimedia Commons {Chinese Media}

Avangard changes everything

Presently, Avangards will be mounted ion the UR-100N (SS-19 Stiletto) until the RS-28 enters into service. Avangard has the ability to move faster than the speed of sound. Previously known as Objekt 4202, Yu-71 and Yu-74 can deliver both nuclear and conventional payloads with a recorded speed of Mach 20 to 27. The flight tests were undertaken between 2015 and 2016.

In March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow has started the production of these systems. The latest test was conducted in the latter part of 2018. The glide vehicle has the sharp horizontal or vertical maneuvering capability for evading any oncoming counter force. The Russians claim that it is invulnerable to any missile defense system.

Ever since the INF treaty was disbanded, Russia was ready to develop new missile systems. Signed between the US and the erstwhile USSR during the Cold War era, the treaty prohibited the countries from launching ICBMs. The Americans had previously accused the Russians of building systems with the range that were banned under the treaty. The Avangard and Samrat follow the end of the treaty and the cutting edge that Russia is having over many other countries working on hypersonic glide vehicles.

NATO's threat perception and Avangard

A video released by the Russian ministry showed the glider vehicles being loaded with silo-based missiles. This increases the nuclear deterrence for Russia and is seen as a counter measure from any probable attack from other countries including the US. The control on the system is far more different than the normal ballistic missiles.

The latest move to go ahead with production would mean that the US has to change its warheads in NATO countries. This could mean additional military expenses for the US, which means a new wave of arms race again, notwithstanding the possible onset of a new Cold War.