Moscow follows China in seeking maneuverable high-speed missiles
Moscow is developing a new, ultra-high speed strategic attack vehicle similar to China’s hypersonic weapon, according to military analysts.
However, unlike high-profile strategic bomber flights and large-scale nuclear war games that U.S. military commanders have called provocative, details about the Russian hypersonic vehicle remain one of Moscow’s closely held military secrets.
The Russians have been developing the new Yu-71 vehicle for several years and conducted the most recent flight test in February, according to an article published this month in Jane’s Intelligence Review.
A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment on the Russian hypersonic test.
The unsuccessful flight test was believed to have been released into near space from atop an SS-19 missile that was launched from the Dombarovsky missile base in eastern Russia. The vehicle is part of Moscow’s secret Project 4202 missile program, the Jane’s report says.
Jane’s concludes that Russia over the past five years has stepped up the secret program as part of efforts to defeat U.S. missile defenses that were designed to counter predictable ballistic targets.
Hypersonic vehicles, however, are very difficult to track and target because they move in unpredictable ways at speeds of up to 7,000 miles per hour.
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon official who closely monitors Russian strategic weapons programs, said Moscow’s development of glide-strike vehicles and maneuvering warheads are high-priority programs.