Why hypersonic missiles are a game changer

No existing defences can stop such weapons - which is why everyone wants them

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Last week, President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced the deployment of the Avangard among the first in a new class of missiles capable of reaching hypersonic velocity - something no missile can currently achieve, aside from an intercontinental ballistic missile during re-entry.

Such weapons have long been an object of desire by Russian, Chinese and American military leaders, for obvious reasons: Launched from any of these countries, they could reach any other within minutes. No existing defences, in the United States or elsewhere, can intercept a missile that can move so fast while manoeuvring unpredictably.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2020, with the headline Why hypersonic missiles are a game changer. Subscribe