Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw military exercises off the coast of Crimea on Thursday that included the launching of a hypersonic missile system.
Russia's Black Sea and Northern Fleets held joint drills in the Black Sea during which they practised the launch of the Kalibr cruise missiles and the hypersonic air-launched ballistic missile Kinzhal, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
More than 30 ships, 40 aircraft and one submarine were involved in the exercises, TASS reported.
“The drills have been held successfully,” Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, reported to Putin.
Two MIG-31K fighters practised target-firing using the Kinzhal ballistic missile and crews of the Admiral Grigorovich frigate, small missile ship Orekhovo-Zuyevo and submarine Kolpino tested the launch of the Kalibr missiles.
Putin watched the launches from aboard the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser.
Hypersonic is generally defined as a speed of Mach 5 or over 3,836 mph. The missiles fly into space after launch, but then come down and fly at high speeds on a flight path similar to that of an aeroplane. Their lower trajectory makes them more difficult for US missile defence satellites and radars to detect.
In late December the Russian leader boasted of his country's “unique” advances in hypersonic weaponry, saying other countries were “trying to catch up with us.”
Putin added that “not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons.”
A new hypersonic missile system known as Avangard entered service December 27, the country's state media reported.