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Russia shows cutting-edge Avangard hypersonic glider to US inspectors

Russia shows cutting-edge Avangard hypersonic glider to US inspectors
Moscow has showcased its top notch Avangard hypersonic missile system to a team of US military inspectors, saying the unprecedented move is an attempt to revitalize the key New START arms control treaty.

The US team became familiar with Avangard over the past two days, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday. It was not immediately clear how close the US inspectors were able to get to the cutting-edge system and whether it was shown to them in action.

The Avangard is a hypersonic glider, launched by silo-based ballistic missiles, said to be able to penetrate any – both existing and prospective – defenses. It achieves extremely high speeds during its final approach while retaining the ability to maneuver.

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The creation and successful tests of hypersonic, as well as other futuristic weaponry unveiled by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last year, has caused quite a stir in Washington. The system, first shown to the public last year, is expected to enter combat duty next month.

The Pentagon has rushed to create similar weaponry for itself – while the US had been working on hypersonic systems before, research and development was largely stalled when the Russian bombshell announcement came.

Moscow says it decided to show the weapon – many of whose characteristics remain a secret – in a bid to reinvigorate the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).The agreement, which remains the last major obstacle in the way of the unhinged arms race, is set to expire in 2021. While Russia has already filed all the paperwork necessary to begin the discussion of its prolongation, Washington, so far, has not responded to Moscow’s proposals.

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It remains unclear whether the US actually intends to save the New START, given its persistent efforts to dismantle all the major arms control deals. Earlier this year, Washington withdrew from yet another key agreement, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The US blamed Russia for the INF demise, accusing it of violating the deal yet failed to provide any proof of its claims.

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