Russia demonstrated its Avangard missile with hypersonic gliding reentry vehicle, between Nov 24-26 in Russia, in the framework of New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). The ministry said Avangard would go on combat duty in December 2019. The military said Moscow demonstrated the latest weapon to maintain START viability and effectiveness. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the weapon did not contradict the bilateral treaty with USA, Gazeta dot ru online publication said.
After US unilateral withdrawal from a 1987 INF Treaty earlier this year in August, the 1991 START treaty remains the only arms reduction agreement between Russia and the United States. It expires in February 2021 and can be prolonged for five years. However, Washington so far keeps mum on the treaty fate. President Donald Trump wants to conclude a new trilateral treaty between Russia, China and the USA, but Beijing is against the idea.
Deputy Director of the non-proliferation and arms control department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Vladimir Leontyev said early this month that Avangard and Sarmat missiles did not violate the New START. “If Sarmat is implemented at least as a prototype during the treaty term or its potential prolongation, it will pose no problems for START. There are no major problems with Avangard either,” he said. He added there were problems with other Russian latest weapons which do not fall under the treaty, as it covers intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Leontyev said so far there were no proposals to amend the treaty.
A defense industry source earlier told TASS that the first two UR-100N UTTKh ICBM with a gliding reentry vehicle would go on test combat duty in late November – early December in Dombarovskaya division of the Strategic Missile Forces. Their Commander Sergey Karakaev said in May earlier this year that the forces began to receive Avangard. The Yasnensky missile formation in Orenburg region developed infrastructure for an Avangard missile regiment, he said. Another defense industry source told TASS in October 2018 that two Avangard regiments with six silo-based missiles each were to go on combat duty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the new weapon first in his state-of-the-nation address on March 1, 2018. The president said in late 2018 that batch production of Avangard had begun. A defense industry source told TASS in February 2019 that final test launches made the government commission recommend to accept Avangard into service, Gazeta dot ru said.
Avangard is a strategic ICBM with a gliding reentry vehicle. Open sources said the vehicle was designed by NPO Mashinostroeniya and has been tested since 2004. It can fly in the dense layers of the atmosphere at 20 times the speeds of sound. It maneuvers along the trajectory and in altitude to break through missile defense.
As the US have lready withdrawn from the three decades old INF (Intermediate Nuclear Force) Treaty with Russia, earlier in August this year, the feared potential demise of the last major arms control agreement (START) will certainly make the world “more dangerous,” and cause other, rather unpredictable consequences, the Russian president warned. If this treaty is not extended, the world will have no means of limiting the number of offensive weapons, and this is bad news. The situation will change, globally!