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Russia claims to have hypersonic, nuclear-capable missiles ready for deployment
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AFP/Getty Images

Russia claims to have hypersonic, nuclear-capable missiles ready for deployment

Putin made the announcement Wednesday at the Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country has developed a new kind of hypersonic, nuclear-capable missile and would deploy it in 2019.

What did Putin say?

Addressing his government on Wednesday, Putin announced that his military had successfully conducted a test of an intercontinental "Avangard" missile system. Putin said that he remotely observed the test in person from Moscow, during which the missile successfully destroyed a target in the eastern part of Russia.

During the speech, he said that "this test, which has just finished, ended with complete success." According to a translation by Reuters, he continued:

From next year, 2019, Russia's armed forces will get the new intercontinental strategic system Avangard. ... It's a big moment in the life of the armed forces and in the life of the country. Russia has obtained a new type of strategic weapon.

What can this type of missile do?

To be considered hypersonic, a missile needs to be able to travel at least five times the speed of sound, or a little faster than one mile per second.

According to claims by Putin regarding this particular missile, it can fly at speeds that are 20 times the speed of sound, and move up and down during its flight in order to avoid anti-missile systems.

Putin has claimed that this type of missile is maneuverable enough to render current missile defense systems effectively useless. This particular missile system had been one of several that Putin had bragged about during a televised speech in March.

Also in March, U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee that when it came to hypersonic missiles, the United States does not "have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us." He said at the time that the U.S. was aware that Russia and China were "aggressively pursuing hypersonic capabilities."

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