Susan DAVIS (United States)
20 November 2020
One of the highlights of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s March 2018 State of the Nation address was the presentation of two new nuclear delivery systems, which, he claimed, could evade US anti-ballistic missile defences. About 1 ½ years later, on 27 December 2019, Russia announced that Avangard, a nuclear-armed hypersonic boost-glide weapon invulnerable to interception by any current ballistic missile defence system, had become operational.
Since then, hypersonic weapons have received considerable attention, grabbing the headlines, and generating considerable hype. Even seasoned security experts have not been immune to this hype. Some have argued that hypersonic weapons will ignite a new arms race that promises to upend traditional strategic stability calculations (Smith, 2019). The Munich Security Report 2019 described hypersonic vehicles as “potentially game-changing weapons” that could “bypass any current missile defences and radically reduce the warning time for a targeted actor” (Munich Security Report 2019). [...]