Moscow— Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his State of the Nation Address before the Russian Federal Assembly, announced that the Russian military has developed a new series of nuclear weapons; among those revealed are reported hypersonic weapons, a potential geopolitical game-changer.

Putin discussed the Russian development of hypersonic weapons while stating that the country “is in possession of such weapons” and added, “As an important stage of armament development, a precision hypersonic aviation and missile complex has been created.”

According to a Wired report on hypersonic missile capabilities:

The missiles are designed to travel at approximately 5,000 to 25,000 kilometres per hour , or one to five miles per second, a report for the RAND Corporation explains. In other words, the missiles fly more than 25-times faster than modern airplanes.

They’re made of two components: Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGVs) and hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs). HGVs are unpowered vehicles that glide to their target at the top of the atmosphere, reaching between 40km to 100km in altitude.

HGVs are launched on an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBM. Once released they glide along the upper edge of the atmosphere, maneuvering toward their target, says Richard Moore, senior engineer and director of RAND’s Washington office.

It’s possible to keep the target a secret until the last few seconds of their flight because of the uniquely low trajectory they take in the atmosphere. It is then that missile makes its final dive.

Putin said that Russia warned the United States and European NATO member states numerous times that reciprocal measures would be taken by Moscow in response to the continued deployment of the U.S. global missile defense system in close proximity to the Russian border.

A report by Russian news agency TASS notes that in 2004, following U.S. strategic nuclear forces’ drills which for the first time involved missile defense systems, the Russian president told reporters that “given the qualitative and quantitative increase in the military capabilities of other countries, Russia needs to make a breakthrough and develop new generation weapons and military equipment.”

During the address, Putin noted, “In this regard, I am pleased to inform you that tests conducted during military exercises have produced positive results, confirming that in the near future Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces will receive the newest technical complexes capable of achieving hypersonic speed and hitting targets at intercontinental distances with high accuracy, at the same time being able to fully maneuver, changing altitude and course,” adding that “no other country currently has such weapons.”

According to Putin, “the unique flight and technical characteristics of the high-speed aircraft-type carrier make it possible to deliver missiles to a discharge point within just minutes.”

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