President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that a new hypersonic intercontinental missile would enter service next year and guarantee Russia maintains military parity with the United States.
He used a national televised call-in show to once again call attention to the modernisation of Russia’s strategic weapons, mentioning in particular the new “Avant-garde” missile capable of changing direction and altitude, which Putin said would make it unstoppable.
“Faster than Mach 20, twenty times the speed of sound,” said Putin. “I don’t think other countries will develop such a weapon in the coming years … we already have it.”
He said the missile was in production and would enter service next year.
Another hypersonic missile is already in service, said Putin.
“The air-launched hypersonic system Dagger, it is a hypersonic missile that flies at 10 times the speed of sound, it is already in service of our army,” said the president.
He said a laser weapons system was also already in service and that a new, more powerful, ballistic missile called Sarmat would be ready in 2020.
Putin stunned the West — and many in Russia — in March by using his state of the nation address just weeks before his re-election to a fourth term in office to unveil the new arsenal of “invincible” weapons.
However Putin portrayed the development of the new generation of weapons as a reaction to the United States pulling out of a major arms treaty that he said had ensured strategic parity.
The threat of mutually assured destruction helped avoid a nuclear war as it kept nuclear powers from making “abrupt moves and forced them to respect one another,” Putin said.
However “the withdrawal of the US from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was an attempt to break that strategic parity,” he added.
“But we are responding… our modern weapon systems… undoubtedly guarantee that parity.”
The United States pulled out of the Soviet-era Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which limited the development of anti-missile systems, in 2002 under President George W. Bush.
Putin said the world needed a new international security framework.
“It is already past time we sat at the negotiating table and not only thought about but developed a modern system of international and European security that corresponds to today’s” needs, he said.