On 26 December 2018 the Strategic Rocket Forces performed a test of the Avangard system that includes a hypersonic glide vehicle carried on a UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 missile. The launch, which took place at 12:59 MSK, was observed from the National Defense Control Center by the President of Russia and other officials. The test was said to be successful. It was also reported that the Avangard system has completed the program of tests and is ready for deployment in 2019.

The UR-100NUTTH missile that carried the vehicle was launched from a converted R-36M/SS-18 silo of the Dombarovskiy missile division (the one at 51.030849,59.690144). This silo has been used in earlier tests of the system (referred to as Project 4202). The vehicle reached its target at the Kura test site.

According to earlier reports, the deployment of Avangard will begin with two UR-100NUTTH missiles with the glide vehicle of the Avangard system will begin with two missiles deployed at Dombarovskiy by the end of 2019.

The history of Avangard/Project 4202 tests is a bit complicated. The vehicle, initially known as Yu-70, was tested four times in the 1990s and then it was mothballed until 2001. It was demonstrated to the Russian leadership in a test in February 2004 after which the development apparently got the green light (even though the test may not have been entirely successful). The next three tests - in December 2011, September 2013, and September 2014 (the evidence is mostly circumstantial for this one) - that involved a Yu-71 vehicle (built without Ukraine's participation) were probably not very successful as well. I was told that the designers had some problems with getting the vehicle to maneuver. This seems to be in agreement with what Yuri Borisov, deputy defense minister, said in a recent interview - the program was almost shut down "four years ago" (which would place it at the end of 2014). However, the designers asked for another chance to prove that the project is viable and they got it.

After that decision, there was a known test in February 2015 (probably unsuccessful), and two in 2016 - in April and in October. U.S. intelligence sources were quoted as saying that there was another (unsuccessful) test in October 2017, but this report does not seem very reliable - all 2017 ICBM launches have been accounted for and Borisov said that the most recent test of Avangard was the third one (I assume it was the third successful).

Here is my attempt to bring everything in one table:

Date Test site Comment
28 Feb 1990 Baykonur Appears to be the first test of the Yu-70/102E vehicle. Did not involve separation of the vehicle from booster. 15A35P launch
29 Mar 1990 Baykonur Yu-70/102E vehicle. Did not involve separation of the vehicle from booster. 15A35P launch
26 Nov 1991 Baykonur 15A35P launch
28 Jul 1992 Baykonur 15A35P launch
27 Jun 2001 Baykonur 15A35P launch
18 Feb 2004 Baykonur Demonstration of the Yu-70/102E vehicle. UR-100NUTTH launch during a strategic exercise. 15A35P launch. Reportedly unsuccessful.
27 Dec 2011 Baykonur The first test of the Yu-71 vehicle of the Project 4202 program. 15A35P launch
27 Sep 2013? Dombarovskiy Reportedly unsuccessful
Sep 2014? Dombarovskiy Not confirmed
26 Feb 2015 Dombarovskiy Reportedly unsuccessful. 15A35P launch
19 Apr 2016 Dombarovskiy Reportedly successful. 15A35P launch
25 Oct 2016 Dombarovskiy Reportedly successful
Oct 2017? Dombarovskiy Reported, but not confirmed
26 Dec 2018 Dombarovskiy Reportedly successful

In any event, everything appears to be ready for the first two Avangard launchers at Dombarovskiy in 2019. The total of 12 missiles are expected to be deployed there by the end of 2027, which confirms that it's largely a niche capability. There are persistent rumors about Avangard gliders being deployed on Sarmat ICBMs - as many as three on a missile - but I am a bit skeptical about that.

AvangardLaunchCover.pngP.S. An interesting detail that can be seen at 0:05 on the video of the launch - the opening silo cover has something like a piece of cloth (тряпочка) attached to it. My guess is it's a cover of the missile container that is being removed as the silo opens. But the removal method doesn't seem particularly elegant.

P.P.S. The glider is said to have reached speed of 20M or even (according to Borisov) 27M. This sounds impressive (and in fact it is), but we should keep in mind that the vehicle is flying at altitudes of 70-80 km. The speed of sound there is about 290 m/s, which is less than 340 m/s at the sea level (NASA has a nice calculator). So, 20M would be 5.8 km/s (27M is about 7.8 km/s).