Report: Russia Lacking Materials for Large-Scale Production of Hypersonic Weapon

Intercontinental ballistic missile UR-100NUTTKh. These ICBMs are slated to be the first to receive the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle.  Source: Russian MoD

The Russian government is finding it difficult to produce its hypersonic glide vehicle amid a shortage of the necessary resources, a report by CNBC claims, based on sources knowledgeable of U.S. government findings.

On July 1, CNBC cited “people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report” as indicating that Moscow is encountering difficulty in sourcing carbon fiber components for Avangard, a hypersonic glide vehicle revealed last year. These components are essential for the weapon’s operational use. The report noted that Russia has been seeking an alternative source, as the “current supply was unable to withstand the extreme temperatures of hypersonic flight.”

A U.S. intelligence report “curated a month ago” found that Russia is still having problems finding that alternative source.

Earlier this year, Russia announced that Avangard had completed testing and was ready for serial delivery to the military. However, U.S. intelligence suspects that serial production will be limited due to the resource problems. One official with knowledge of the report told CNBC, “It’s expected that they will make no more than 60 of these hypersonic weapons because it’s just proving to be too expensive to develop.”

Avangard should nevertheless achieve Initial Operational Capability before the end of 2020, the U.S. believes.

Commenting on the report on July 2, the office of Yuri Borisov, the deputy prime minister of Russia, said, “The production and the delivery of Avangard systems with the boost glide vehicle are proceeding according to the schedule and without any delays.”

Russia is looking to put the Avangard into service so as to ensure its nuclear deterrent is able to overcome any ballistic missile defenses that the U.S. might possess or develop. Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled the system, along with other advanced projects, in a presentation last year.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

View all posts by Derek Bisaccio →