Russia’s plans to construct a hypersonic weapon system that may travel at greater than 20 times the velocity of sound, and also evade US missile defenses, has predictably rattled the world. Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that the Avangard weapons system could be ready by 2019. However, some obstacles lie ahead that would affect manufacturing, Times reported. Notably, the Kremlin wants to find another supply of carbon fiber material to construct the Avanguard hypersonic glide vehicles.
Russia’s present supply of carbon fiber materials is unable to resist the intense temperatures of hypersonic flight. In response to a US intelligence report reviewed by Times, Russia is attempting to find an alternate supply of carbon fiber, but so far has had no luck. “It is anticipated that they are going to make no more than 60 of those hypersonic weapons because it is just proving to be too costly to develop,” a nameless official informed CNBC.
However, one nuclear weapon skilled advised Engadget that 60 units are a pretty significant quantity. “To me, the most shocking part was that someone would say that 60 models are ‘a few.’ I’d say that 60 is quite a few. My take on Avangard has always been that it is a niche capability without a clear mission. I was expecting that Russia will cease after deploying maybe a dozen of them,” mentioned Pavel Podvig, a senior research fellow on the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
As it stands, the present plan is to achieve an initial operational capability of the Avangard by 2020, based on Russian information reports. The immediate objective is to construct 12 weapons by 2027, so will probably be a very long time till Russia is ready to reach 60 weapons. In the meantime, the US Army plans to field a battery of its own hypersonic missiles by 2023.