Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle can travel 27 times the speed of sound and zig-zag through atmosphere en route to target, making it almost impossible to intercept

Tel Aviv: In this video grab provided by RU-RTR Russian television via AP television on Thursday, March 1, 2018, a computer simulation shows the Avangard hypersonic vehicle maneuvering to bypass missile defenses en route to target. (RU-RTR Russian Television via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — A new intercontinental weapon that can fly 27 times the speed of sound became operational Friday, Russia’s defense minister reported to President Vladimir Putin, bolstering the country’s nuclear strike capability.

Putin has described the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle as a technological breakthrough comparable to the 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite. The new Russian weapon and a similar system being developed by China have troubled the United States, which has pondered defense strategies.