Russian President Vladimir Putin dedicated a significant portion of a speech on March 1, 2018, to discuss the development of new Russian missile systems.
He revealed that a missile called ‘Kinzhal’ had been provided to the Southern Military District in December 2017, for testing. Kinzhal is an air-launched hypersonic missile; a video of flight testing showed it equipped to a MiG-31.
Discussing Kinzhal’s capabilities, President Putin said,
The unique flight and technical characteristics of the high-speed aircraft-type carrier make it possible to deliver missiles to a discharge point within just minutes while the missile flying at a hypersonic speed exceeding the speed of sound by 10 times maneuvers at all the flight trajectory’s section, which enables it to reliably overcome all existing and, I believe, future air defense and anti-ballistic missile defense systems, delivering nuclear and conventional warheads to the target to the distance of over 2,000 kilometers.
Furthermore, Russia has launched production of a hypersonic glide vehicle called ‘Avangard’. President Putin described the glide vehicle as highly maneuverable, which, combined with its high speed, makes it difficult for missile defenses to intercept. He added, “By virtue of obvious reasons we cannot show the real look of this product today. I believe, it is of great significance even now. I believe everybody understands this.”
In reference to the Sarmat ballistic missile, President Putin said that the “active phase of tests” had begun. He noted, “This missile complex will replace the Voyevoda ICBM complex, which was designed in the times of the Soviet Union.” Sarmat will have much greater range and is designed under the intention of being able to best missile defenses.
Another system designed to penetrate through missile defenses is still under development and has not yet been named. The system is a cruise missile equipped with “a small-size highly powerful nuclear power plant” that will thus have “practically unlimited” range, according to President Putin.
Russia tested the system at the end of last year.
The Russian president said, “During the flight the power plant achieved the design capacity and thrust. The launch of the missile and the tests on the ground allow for starting work to create a fundamentally new type of weapon – a strategic nuclear missile equipped with a nuclear power plant.”
The Russian military has also tested a new unmanned underwater vehicle, which has not yet been named, that will be able to carry both nuclear and conventional warheads. The unmanned system can operate at “very extreme depths.”