The fist two Avangard systems officially began combat duty at 10:00 MSK on December 27, 2019. The two silos used to deploy these missiles are at 51.1925 59.635278 and 51.151034 59.597282 - satellite images taken on 3 December 2019 show exactly the activity one would expect to see at a site where a missile is loaded into a silo.

AvangardSiloOne.png AvangardSiloTwo.png

About a month earlier, Russia showed the missile to U.S. inspectors during a New START demonstration. It is not entirely clear what the inspectors could see, but at the very least they saw the shroud that covers the actual glider. The NK forum has a photo of the process of installing the payload on a missile (it may not be Avangard, but it's quite close) - this is probably what was shown to U.S. inspectors.


It's been a long road for the glider - the program began more than 30 years ago, in the late 1980s. It was known as Albatros at the time. The first flight test of the system took place in February 1990 (although it was certainly an early development prototype). The program was revived in the early 2000s and made the first public appearance in February 2004. I actually have a blog entry that described that test. The first signs of something is afoot at Dombarovskiy appeared around 2013 - at the time the program was known as Project 4202.

Avangard didn't have a very smooth ride as the project was almost cancelled at some point and the number of successful tests is not particularly impressive (I counted three). But this is all in the past now and the first two missiles are now operational. The plan is to deploy twelve systems of this type at Dombarovskiy by 2027.