Eye on Ukraine: Why Russia is raising second regiment of Avangard hypersonic missile system

Updated: Feb 11, 2022, 03:56 PM(IST)

Russia has reportedly started a "serial production" of Tsirkon hypersonic missiles

Avangard hypersonic warheads

According to Russia's TASS news agency, the second regiment of UR-100N UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the Avangard hypersonic warheads will assume combat alert in Russia’s Strategic Missile Force before the end of the year.

The second regiment of the Avangard hypersonic missile system will take position in the Yasny missile formation, the news agency said.

The first regiment had taken command post in late 2019 and was put to full strength in 2021. The Avangard hypersonic weapon was first mentioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018.


Russia's ICBM force

According to a US Congress report, Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces currently has three missile armies which in turn comprise 11 missile divisions.

The Russian Federation maintains a triad of nuclear forces consisting of ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers. Russia deploys its strategic nuclear forces at more than a dozen bases across its territory, the report said.

Russia’s ICBM force currently comprises 310 missiles that can carry up to 1,189 warheads. Clearly, Russia's overwhelming military strength can easily overpower Ukraine greatly worrying Western officials.

Russia is also developing a new heavy ICBM known as the Sarmat (SS-X-30).


Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle

The US report said an official with Russia’s Security Council had confirmed that the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle was integrated onto the SS-19 force.

The missiles are likely deployed with the 13 th regiment of the Dombarovskiy (Red Banner) missile division based in the Orenburg region. It reportedly has a Mach speed of 20 which is 6.8 km/s.

Russia began testing the Sarmat missile in 2016. Reports indicate that it is likely to be deployed in the Uzhur Missile Division around 2022, the US report said.

The RS-28 Sarmat (SS-X-30) missile is a liquid-fueled heavy ICBM. Putin stated in a 2018 speech that Sarmat weighs over 200 tons.


Poseidon & Burevestnik (Skyfall) nuclear-powered cruise missile

Russia may deploy the Poseidon drone on four submarines, two in the northern fleet and two in the Pacific fleet. Each submarine would carry eight drones.

“We have developed unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels," Putin had said.

The Burevestnik (SSC-X-9 Skyfall) is a nuclear-powered cruise missile with an “unlimited” range. Russia reportedly conducted a successful test of the missile in January 2019 and had reportedly prepared another test of the Burevestnik cruise missile in August last year.


Putin's 'invincible weapons'

Last year in December, President Vladimir Putin had informed that the Russian military had successfully fired a simultaneous salvo of its Zircon hypersonic missiles, calling it "a big event" for the country. 

It was the first time that Russian authorities reported a successful simultaneous launch test of several Zircon missiles.

The announcement was made even as Russian troops were massing along Ukraine's border. As world powers race to develop advanced weaponry, Russia has carried out a number of successful tests of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile.

Putin said that the salvo launch of the missile had been conducted overnight hailing it as "immaculate".


Putin's US concern

Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles — defined as reaching speeds of at least Mach 5.

Putin revealed the development of the new weapon in a state of the nation address in February 2019, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land within a range of 1,000 kilometres at a speed of Mach 9.

Putin has voiced concern in particular over what he said was US missile deployments in Poland and Romania, countries he said would soon be capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Russian president had said new arsenal of hypersonic missiles that he has previously described as "invincible" were nearing combat readiness.


Serial production of Tsirkon hypersonic missiles

Russia's news agency last November had revealed the country's defence forces had started a "serial production" of Tsirkon hypersonic missiles for the Navy.

The production centre is based in at the Industrial Association of Machine Building (MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia) near Moscow in the town of Reutovo.

On October 4 last year, the Russian nuclear-powered submarine Severodvinsk test-fired Tsirkon hypersonic missiles from its surface and submerged position in the White Sea for the first time.

TASS said the state trials of the Tsirkon hypersonic missile would begin in November(2021) and continue in December. Overall, five test-launches against sea and coastal targets are planned.



Russian missiles that can evade US-built missile shield

Russia had also had carried out another successful test launch of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, hailed by President Vladimir Putin as part of a new generation of unrivalled arms systems.

The missile was fired from the Admiral Gorshkov warship in the White Sea and hit a naval target more than 400 km away. A short video clip showed the missile illuminating the night sky with a burst of white light.

Putin announced an array of new hypersonic weapons in 2018, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield.


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