Russia has reportedly launched a hypersonic missile that travels at 10 times the speed of sound and has immunity to air defense systems.
The so-called “Kinzhal” missile was set off in the southwestern part of the country using a MiG-31 aircraft, Russia’s defense ministry said, according to an Agence France-Presse report on Sunday.
“The launch went according to plan: the hypersonic missile hit its target,” the ministry stated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the southern military district has had possession of the missile since the beginning of December.
Footage Russia released shows two pilots gearing up to take off and then flying toward a jet holding a massive missile. The missile detaches from the jet and flies on its own, with patriotic music playing in the background.
Putin unveiled the Kinzhal missile earlier in March as one in a new line of nuclear weaponry that could overcome U.S. defense systems. His state of the nation address was seen as possibly signaling another arms race with the west.
“I would like to tell those who have been trying to escalate the arms race for the past 15 years, to gain unilateral advantages over Russia, and to impose restrictions and sanctions … The attempt at curbing Russia has failed,” Putin said.
But U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the hypersonic missile and other weapons Putin claimed are in the pipeline do not change Moscow’s position.
“I saw no change to the Russian military capability and each of these systems that he’s talking about that are still years away, I do not see them changing the military balance,” Mattis said. “It doesn’t change anything other than how much money do they want to spend on something that does not change at all the strategic balance.”
Putin in his address said Russia is developing missiles and underwater drones, among other weapons, because the U.S. pulled out of the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty it had signed with the Soviet Union.
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