Russia Deploys Long Range Hypersonic Missile System “Invulnerable to Intercept”.

Screen capture from Russian animated video that may suggest the basic configuration of the Avangard. No photos of the weapon have been published. (Photo: via YouTube)

Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle Claimed to Fly at “Mach 27”, Carries MIRVs (Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles).

Russian state news media and credible western news outlets such as the BBC World News are reporting that Russia has operationally deployed its new, “highly maneuverable”, ICBM-launched Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle to an active military base somewhere in the Ural Mountains of western Russia.

The reports are significant since the Russian claims of maneuverability for the Avangard HGV may make interception of the missile system impossible with known anti-missile defense systems and countermeasures.

The Avangard is boosted into flight using an ICBM launch platform such as Russia’s SS-19 Stiletto (also known as the UR-100UTTkh). The Avangard HGV separates from its ICBM boost platform after reaching an apogee or maximum altitude of approximately 100 km. After separation from the launch ICBM platform the unpowered Avangard reenters the atmosphere at hypersonic speed. This flight profile is no different than existing ICBM deployed hypersonic weapons used by the U.S. and other nations. What is claimed to set the Avangard apart from existing reentry vehicles is its maneuverability. Russia claims the Avangard is as fast as an ICBM warhead on reentry but also as maneuverable as a low-speed cruise missile. It is this claim of maneuverability at hypersonic speeds that is alleged to make Avangard “impossible” to intercept by known anti-missile defense systems.

Photo of earlier December 26, 2018 test launch of the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle from the Defense Ministry’s Control Room in Moscow, Russia. (Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo distributed via AP)

If claims of the Avangard’s maneuver capability are accurate, U.S. missile defense systems such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, that intercepts an incoming ballistic missile based on prediction of a constant trajectory, may be ineffective in intercepting the new reentry weapon.

No photos of the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle have been published. This screen capture is from a video of how the system is claimed to operate (Photo: via YouTube)

The Avangard weapon has been in development for several years prior to this reported operational deployment. On Dec. 26, 2018, the Avangard was test launched using a UR-100UTTkh ICBM. The launch test originated from Dombarovsky missile base in the Ural Mountains. Russian state media said the test missile successfully struck a target at the Kura Missile Test Range on the Kamchatka Peninsula 3,700 miles away.

This animated demonstration video was originally released on Mar. 1, 2018, by Russian state media:

In a report by, Russian source Pavel Podvig was quoted from an October 29, 2018 statement that, “The first [operational Avangard] regiment will include two UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 missiles, each armed with a single boost-glide vehicle. Later the number of missiles in the regiment will be increased to six; a second regiment with six missiles is expected to be deployed by 2027.”

No images of the Avangard have been released and there are no open source explanations of how the reentry vehicle maneuvers at hypersonic speed once reentering or is back inside the atmosphere in its terminal attack phase. This is the phase of flight when most anti-missile systems engage an incoming target.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.