Sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence reports say Russia is on the brink of developing a maneuverable, hypersonic nuclear-capable glider warhead that no US system can defeat.
The sources, speaking to CNBC on condition of anonymity, reported that Russia tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle (presumably the Avangard) twice in 2016, and again in 2017. The 2017 test was a failure, according to the sources. A fourth test is expected sometime this summer.
Citing an intelligence report, a source said the hypersonic glider's testing involved mounting it to an RS-18A intercontinental ballistic missile (NATO reporting name SS-19).
US intelligence says the vehicle is highly maneuverable, and thus unpredictable and hard to track. It is also fitted with onboard countermeasures, which no existing US missile-defense system can defeat. Furthermore, although it can carry a warhead, it is believed that the force of the glider's impact, as well as its precision, may be enough to destroy targets.