Russia deployed its first regiment of hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles on Friday, the Defence Ministry said, a move which President Vladimir Putin has boasted puts his country in a class of its own.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has informed Putin of the deployment, according to a ministry statement that did not disclose where the missiles were located, Reuters reported.
The new system, called Avangard, comprises a hypersonic glide vehicle designed to sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, one of several new types of weapons Putin has touted as ahead of their time.
Putin has said Russia’s new generation of nuclear weapons can hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield.
Some Western experts have questioned how advanced some of the weapons programs are.
The Pentagon said in a statement that it “will not characterize the Russian claims” about the Avangard’s capabilities. The US has been developing hypersonic weapons since the early 2000s, according to a Congressional Research Service report published in July.
Russia said on Nov. 26 that US experts had examined an Avangard under inspection rules of the 2010 New START treaty. A US State Department official confirmed that inspectors examined an Avangard, but had no further comment.
Putin said on Tuesday the Avangard system could penetrate both existing and any future missile defense systems, according to Reuters.
“Today, we have a unique situation in our new and recent history. They (other countries) are trying to catch up with us. Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons,” said Putin.