Putin’s push to develop weapons of this caliber has sparked concerns of a budding arms race among China, the U.S. and Russia.
What’s more, the latest revelations come a little more than a year after the Russian leader touted his nation’s growing hypersonic arsenal. Of the six new weapons Putin unveiled last March, CNBC learned that two of them, a hypersonic glide vehicle and air-launched cruise missile, will be ready for war by 2020.
The hypersonic glide vehicle, dubbed Avangard, is designed to sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile. Once launched, it uses aerodynamic forces to sail on top of the atmosphere.
One U.S. intelligence report, according to a source, noted that the hypersonic glide vehicles were mounted to Russian-made SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missiles — and one test featured a mock warhead.
Previous intelligence reports, which were curated last spring, calculate that Avangard is likely to achieve initial operational capability by 2020, a significant step that would enable the Kremlin to surpass the U.S. and China in this regard.
The hypersonic cruise missile dubbed “Kinzhal,” which means “dagger” in Russian, has been tested at least three times and was mounted and launched 12 times from a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet.