LiveScience also noted that, even though the US will eventually develop a way to close this technological gap one way or the other in due course, the greatest risk at present is the uncertainty and anxiety these new weapons could engender. After all, they aren’t limited by nuclear arms-control treaties like conventional ICBMs.
It’s worth emphasizing that it’s not unusual for Russia to show off their new destructive toys. It’s as much a way to demonstrate their capabilities as it is a PR event, one aimed at influencing opinion both abroad and at home.
Indeed, back at the time of Putin’s March annual state of the nation speech, Vox points out that its bellicose nature was well-timed: the (ultimately rigged) Russian presidential elections were about to take place. At the same time, he wanted to both sabre-rattle with the US and NATO, as well as continue to convince the Russian people they’re under threat.
As it so happens, the US Navy, back in November 2017, announced that they had successfully tested a prototype hypersonic missile too. The Russian President, seeking a chance to appear to step ahead of China and the US, and to showcase Russia’s military muscle, has now done just that.
This doesn’t just include talking about Avangard, by the way. Back in March, as reported by BBC News, Russia announced that it had successfully test-launched a hypersonic missile, one that’s capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Launched from a MiG-31 fighter jet, the Kinzhal (meaning “dagger”) missile was said to travel 10 times the speed of sound, and have a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles).