MOSCOW, October 6. /TASS/. The Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (now part of Tactical Missiles Corporation) started work on the Avangard hypersonic missile system in 1985 in response to the US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), Company Honorary CEO and Honorary Chief Designer Gerbert Yefremov told TASS on Tuesday.
"After all-embracing considerations, the proposal of the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building began to be implemented in 1985," he specified, responding to a question about how and when the work on the Avangard hypersonic missile system proceeded.
The US anti-ballistic missile defense coupled with massively deployed nuclear-tipped strike missiles reinforces the American combat potential. The simultaneous possession of the capabilities for delivering a pre-emptive massive nuclear strike and the systems for intercepting the few remaining enemy missiles becomes destabilizing and inflames tensions in the world, Yefremov said.
"I can say that [then-US President Ronald] Reagan’s SDI alarmed the leadership of the Soviet Union," he recalled.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the USSR Council of Ministers issued a resolution, instructing defense enterprises to put forward proposals on measures in response to the US SDI program, the chief designer said.
"I, being the newly appointed chief designer of the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building, using the vast experience of previous R&D work, sent a proposal on practically implementing a very difficult task of making the classical ABM defense system intended for countering ballistic missiles useless," he recalled.
"For this purpose, it was necessary to create a flying vehicle moving at great speeds in the atmosphere and making various maneuvers," Yefremov noted.
After comprehensive considerations, the proposal by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building began to be implemented in 1985, he said.
"The experimental testing, both ground, bench and flight tests, using UR-100N UTTKh missiles, continued until the early 2000s. Further practical trials that already involved a combat system proceeded under the direct control of President [Vladimir] Putin after the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002," the chief designer said.
Russian President Putin announced on September 19, Russia’s Gunsmith Day, the conferring of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called with swords on Yefremov for developing the Avangard hypersonic missile system.
As the Russian president recalled during his talk with Yefremov at the time, large-scale work had been launched in 2004 to implement the chief designer’s ideas. A final test-launch was carried out in December 2018. Therefore, all the trials were successfully completed. The first strategic missile regiment armed with Avangard hypersonic missile systems went on combat duty in December 2019.
In 1972, the US and the USSR signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty and simultaneously the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. However, in March 1983, US President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative program aimed at effectively intercepting even a full-scale Soviet missile attack.
The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. According to open sources, the breakthrough weapon was developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the town of Reutov in the Moscow Region) and was tested from 2004. The boost-glide vehicle is capable of flying at over 20 times the speed of sound in the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense.