Russia's hypersonic missile enhancement could be ready by 2020

An advanced Russian weapon could be ready for deployment as early as 2020, U.S. intelligence sources warned Tuesday.

Avangard is a hypersonic glider designed to sit atop intercontinental ballistic missiles. After the missile is launched, Avangard uses aerodynamic forces to enhance the missile’s precision and speed.

In the works for 30 years, Avangard can travel at least five times the speed of sound.

"These kinds of boost glide vehicles attack the gaps in our missile defense system," says Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The technology is similar to Russia’s Kinjal (“dagger”) missile, a hypersonic projectile that was unveiled in March. The missile, carried by advanced war planes, is capable of hitting targets up to 2,000 kilometers away, travels at 10 times the speed of sound, and can be armed with either a conventional or nuclear warhead.

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