Russia's new Yu-74 ultra-maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicles may become yet another response to the deployment of NATO's missile installations in Eastern Europe, according to military analysts. Going head to head with the United States and China, Russia has been developing its own hypersonic weapons during the past few years.
A hypersonic weapon usually has a speed between 3,840 miles per hour (Mach 5) and 7,680 miles per hour (Mach 10). Furthermore, these systems use sophisticated technologies for maneuvering and boast allow the rapid delivery of warheads, precise targeting and survivability against wide range of missile defense systems.
Last year Russia conducted a series of tests of the Yu-71 hypersonic attack aircraft. The Yu-71 is part of secret missile program codenamed "Project 4202." The glider was said to reach speeds of up to 7,000 miles per hour. Due to its outstanding maneuverability and high speed the system can overcome any defense shield, military experts noted.
But that is half the story. According to analytical website Ostkraft.ru, this year Russia successfully tested its experimental Yu-74 hypersonic glide vehicle. The Yu-74 was carried by the intercontinental-range RS-18A (NATO codename: SS-19 Stiletto) ballistic missile system. The glider was launched from the Dombarovsky missile base in the Orenburg region and hit a target located at Kura Missile Test Range in northern Kamchatka region, the Russian Far East.
The Yu-74 system specification as well as the details of the test remains top secret. Reportedly, the gliders are developed to be loaded onto Russia's RS-28 Sarmat (SS-X-30 by NATO classification) - the state-of-the-art heavy liquid-propelled intercontinental ballistic missiles which are currently being developed for the Russian army.
Designed to carry up to 24 nuclear-loaded Yu-74 gliders, each Sarmat ballistic missile will be able to hit any target located within a 6.2 thousand mile radius in one hour. Each Yu-74 glider can be equipped with a nuclear warhead, electronic warfare (EW) applications or false target simulators.
"These features guarantee penetration of any existing and prospective missile defense system of a potential adversary. By adopting such systems Russia's Strategic Missile Forces will significantly increase their efficiency," the analysts emphasize.
The website also calls attention to the fact that the project aimed at creating Russia's hypersonic air-launched cruise missiles has also entered its final phase. Reportedly, new hypersonic cruise missiles will be in many respects similar to the Yu-74.
Ostkraft analysts emphasize that the Yu-74 gliders would not only evade NATO's missile defense systems but will be also capable of penetrating through the US THAAD shield. The analysts argue that while the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is effective in intercepting outdated R-17 Elbrus tactical ballistic missiles, it is potentially vulnerable to the threat posed by advanced missile systems.
The Russians are taking NATO's saber-rattling and muscle-flexing in Eastern Europe seriously, French journalist Victor Ayoli noted in his recent article for Agora Vox. Therefore, Moscow will do whatever it takes to secure Russia's borders to prevent a repeat of the Wehrmacht's Operation Barbarossa invasion in 1941,the journalist stressed.
"Russians are ordinary people. They are afraid of war and they really want to avoid it. The last one cost [the Soviets] more than twenty-eight million lives. But once lured into war, they fight it to the bitter end. This unique trait of the Russian national character the West has misunderstood countless times in the last 1,000 years," Ayoli emphasized.