World War 3: Vladimir Putin claimed he has a weapon able to resist any anti-missile systems (Image: RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY/GETTY)
RUSSIA is finalising a nuclear weapon capable of wiping out an entire city by descending on Earth “like a meteorite” at 20 times the speed of sound, Vladimir Putin has claimed, sparking World War 3 fears.
By ALICE SCARSI
PUBLISHED: 21:43, Fri, Nov 9, 2018
UPDATED: 21:59, Fri, Nov 9, 2018
Tensions between Washington and Moscow reached a new high as the Russian President claimed he has a weapon that can resist any anti-missile systems, making it almost invincible. Mr Putin said: “We know for certain, it’s an obvious fact and our colleagues realise it, that we surpassed all our competitors in this area. “Nobody has precise hypersonic weapons. Some plan to test theirs in 18 to 24 months. We have them in service already.”
And blaming the need of a second nuclear race after the Cold War on the US, which has an advanced ballistic missile defence, he added: “Responding to the development of anti-ballistic missile systems by the US, we are improving our strike capabilities.
“Some are already in service, others will be deployed soon.”
Called Avangard, the weapon will go into active service by next year with the Red Banner Missile Division, based in the Urals, according to a Russian defence industry source.
Speaking to Russian news agency TASS, they said: “The scheduled period for placing the lead regiment on combat duty is the end of 2019.
“Initially, the regiment will comprise at least two systems but eventually their number will rise to their organic quantity of six units.”
According to the claims made by Russia, the Avangard is an hypersonic glide vehicle, a spacecraft which is lofted into the atmosphere atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, such as the Satan II, to then glide down at hypersonic speed.
Being 20 times faster than the speed of sound means the Avangard could travel as fast as at 6860 m/s.
The Avangard is loaded with countermeasure systems able to neutralise defence systems – but it can also count on its exceptional manoeuvrability, which makes it almost impossible to track.
Each Avangard can be loaded with a nuclear warhead of as much as two megatons, making its power of annihilation even bigger.
According to Russia, the Satan II, nickname for the RS-28 Sarmat Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, can carry up to 24 Avangard, meaning Russia could destroy a country’s main cities with one single strike.
This is not the first time Russian officials have spoken out about the Avangard.
During the state-of-the-nation speech on March 1, Mr Putin described his hypersonic arsenal as “invincible”, claiming the Avangard strikes “like a meteorite, like a fireball”.
And in June, Mr Putin said “the Avangard system” was almost completed, adding “is already in the process of its manufacture and has entered its serial production and in 2019 we are planning to deliver it to the Armed Forces.