The fantastic characteristics of Russian newest weapons, by Ruslan Ostashko

Translated and subtitled by Eugenia and Scott


Tests of the new Russian hypersonic complex Avangard conducted last December demonstrated that it wasn’t just real, but also corresponded to the declared characteristics. How exactly Avangard was able to get its highest range and maneuverability? One of our subscribers tried to answer this question.

After the collapse of the USSR it was fashionable to ridicule many Soviet cultural phenomena. For example, the sections in almost every newspaper titled “Letters to the editor.” Meanwhile, in our Internet time, this section is still alive, only now it is fashionably called “interactivity”.

I received a letter from a subscriber of the channel PolitRussia from Nizhnevartovsk. In this letter an author presented his views on how the system Avangard is able to overcome huge distances, while being a difficult target for missile defense of the star-striped enemy.

Let me remind you: I am not an engineer, and perhaps my presentation of the information received from Nizhnevartovsk seems amateurish to someone. But, nevertheless, I will try to present the essence without losing the thread of the narrative. Here we go.

Work on developing missiles capable of hitting the enemy at long distances was conducted during the Great Patriotic war. The Hitler’s Reich also actively worked on this and was looking on the orders of Hitler for ways to create so-called “weapons of retaliation” – the most notorious “wunderwaffe”.

In 1944, an Austrian scientist, Dr. Eugen Zenger and a mathematician Irina Brad developed a concept explaining how to make cruise missile “bounce” off the dense layers of the atmosphere, entering it almost at right angles. The project was called “Silbervogel,” meaning “Silver bird”.

“Zenger was interested in the question of what would happen if a cruise missile entered the dense layers of the atmosphere — say, at an altitude of 40 kilometers — too fast and too cold. It was clear from the report that the rocket would then ricochet like a flat rock touching the surface of the lake. “Bounced” from the dense layers, the rocket can get back up in the more rarefied layers of the atmosphere. After flying some distance, the rocket will again fall into the dense layers and ricochet again. In general, the trajectory of its flight will represent a wavy line with a gradually “reduced” amplitude. According to the calculations of Zenger and Bredt, this trajectory greatly increased the possible range of the cruise missile.”

Here’s how it looks graphically.

I am telling you about the project Silbervogel because our listener from Nizhnevartovskaya, the subscriber believes that the Avangard is the result of similar research conducted after the Great Patriotic war in the Soviet Union.

Based on the information received from open sources, it is possible to describe such a scheme of the use of new Russian weapons.

First, the Avangard climbs on the altitude of about 100 kilometers by a ballistic missile. Similar to the one we witnessed during the launch on December 26, 2018.


After the climb,  the combat unit separates from the rocket and starts maneuvering, both in height and in a plane of flight. What do these maneuvers achieve? Maneuvers at altitude give a big range: a missile is pushed against the dense layers of atmosphere like a flat stone against a lake surface. In dense layers, it is heated to a temperature of about two thousand degrees, but thanks to the new refractory materials, retains all its clever filling. As soon as the temperature approaches the critical one, the block gets into the rarefied layer where it cools down. When it goes lower, and again warms up.

That’s what the author of the letter thinks about these maneuver.

“Given the range of about 6000-8000 kilometers, it is possible to make 2 to 4 of such dives. At points with a maximum height, it is possible to operate with its own engines, which make it possible to maneuver “horizontally” and adjust the flight.”

I think it’s a reasonable assumption and a working scheme. And this scheme breaks the plans of the American interception, says our Nizhnevartovsk listener.

“It is important to note that the US national missile defense system is designed to destroy the kinetic interceptor in an outer space. And they can do this only on a ballistic, very simple, parabolic trajectory. This applies to all types of anti-missile systems. Even the simplest maneuver, even one that looks predictable at first glance, would destroy the most important assumption,becaouse the target is ballistic. So, it is either dramatically reduce the effectiveness of one anti-missile systems. Or, it completely eliminates the possibility of destroying the missile.”

Yes, there may be more missiles. But, it’s not the fact that they would cope. Because, they’re designed to destroy a target in the outer space. And then the target is hardly rises above 100 kilometers, and, in addition, horizontally maneuvers.

Plus there is a banal economic aspect. The one about which on December 27, the day after the successful tests of the Avantgarde spoke the special representative of the President of Russia on environmental protection, ecology and transport Sergei Ivanov.

“One very important aspect is financial. In every missile system the most expensive is a missile carrier, not a warhead. When we started working on creation of Avangard, we had several dozens of ballistic missiles the UR-100UTTKh in our arsenals of strategic missile forces.  In NATO classification, SS-19 Stiletto, liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles. They were built in the Soviet Union in earlier post-Soviet time. So, we kept the several dozens “dry” missiles. The term “dry missile” means that those stored missiles were never filled with fuel. It’s important because a shelf-life of a missile starts with the moment it filled with fuel.  In essence, they were new. The Avangard warhead ideally fit this exact missile. We filled several of those missiles with fuel during the tests, and they demonstrated their complete operationality.  Thus, we have a supply of several dozens of those missile carriers that we don’t have to built. We don’t have to spend money making them. We already have the launching sites. With the exception of warheads, we didn’t have some large expenditures. I tell say that the money that were spent to create the Avangard were hindered times less than what the Americans spent to build their missile defense systems.  That’s why we are not getting sucked into some kind of “arms race.” Not now, not ever. When we are being accused in “saber-rattling,” in reality we are not “rattling it,” we are just many decades ahead, as President said. We are defending ourselves for less money. Mow, we don’t need that many ‘classic” or old warheads, because the Avangard is much more effective. So, being fiscally responsible is not the same as “saber-rattling.”

(from 10:30 till 13:33)

“A few dozen,” it can be 99 pieces. The kind of number used up during the test, but remained, apparently, still a decent number. And how many it would take anti-missiles to try to intercept, God knows.

So, our homeland can rest peacefully,  and can admire sunsets during the launch of the Avantgarde, watching the traces of missiles in the atmosphere, as a resident of Nizhnevartovsk Ruslan Mazaylo, who shot these pictures.

Thank you very much to the author of the letter, I hope I understood everything correctly, write to us again.


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