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Russia's hypersonic missile, flying 27 times the speed of sound, put on combat duty

The Russian military said the Avangard hypersonic weapon entered combat duty on Dec 27, 2019.
The Russian military said the Avangard hypersonic weapon entered combat duty on Dec 27, 2019.   -  
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP
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Russia's Avangard hypersonic missile system became operational on Friday, defence minister Sergey Shoygu has said.

The intercontinental weapon can fly 27 times the speed of sound and, unlike a regular missile warhead, can make sharp manoeuvres en route to a target, making it much harder to intercept.

Shoygu informed President Vladimir Putin of the missile put on combat duty, later telling other top military leaders in a conference call: "``I congratulate you on this landmark event for the military and the entire nation".

"This is a significant event for both the country and the Russian Federation's armed forces," the ministry also said on Twitter.

It was launched at 10:00 Moscow time from an undisclosed location in the Orenburg region in the southern Ural Mountains.

The weapon system was first publically discussed by Putin in his state-of-the-nation address in March 2018. He added that it is designed with new composite materials, and can, therefore, withstand Avangard temperatures of up to 2,000 Celsius (3,632 Fahrenheit) resulting from a flight through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.

He emphasised earlier this week that Russia is the only country armed with hypersonic weapons and that it is leading the world in an entire new class of weapons.

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