Avangard glider
© Russian Defense Ministry
CGI showing deployment of an Avangard glider
The Russian defense ministry has conducted the final successful test of the Avangard hypersonic glider before its entry into service, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced. The weapon will be deployed in 2019, he added.

A hypersonic glider is a special type of a warhead, which can fly through the atmosphere at a high speed. This extends the range of a missile, potentially increases accuracy and makes defending against it harder through unexpected maneuvers. But prolonged controlled flight requires special protection of the glider from heat and shock produced at hypersonic speeds. China, the US and Russia are considered the most advanced nations in the relevant technologies, and Moscow claims it is winning the race with the Avangard project.

"The test was finished just now in a complete success," Putin told the cabinet on Wednesday. "All its specifications were confirmed."

The president said the first regiment armed with missiles carrying Avangard gliders will be deployed in Russia next year. "It's a big event for the armed forces, and probably for the entire country. Russia has a new kind of strategic weapons."

In a separate statement, the Kremlin said that the Avangard glider tested on Wednesday was fired from the Dombarovsky site in southern Russia and targeted the test range in Kura in the Kamchatka Peninsula. The glider performed vertical and horizontal maneuvers in flight and accurately hit its intended target at a range, the statement said.