Putin claims Russia is world leader on hypersonic weapons

RUSSIA (CNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted Tuesday of his country’s “unique” advances in hypersonic weaponry, saying other countries were “trying to catch up with us.”

Putin made the remarks at a Russian Defense Ministry board meeting, adding that “not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons,” according to a transcript released by the Kremlin.

Like Russia, both the US and China are also working on hypersonic projects. Beijing said earlier this year that it tested a hypersonic aircraft, while the US Air Force has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a missile.

This time last year, Putin made similar claims, saying that the new hypersonic missile system would enter service in 2019 — something that has yet to happen.

The Russian leader has already publicly showcased a number of advanced weapons that he says are capable of defeating US and NATO defenses, including a missile that can deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed.

But analysts have in the past expressed caution that Russia’s boasts about its military capabilities are not often backed up. And the country has also seen significant setbacks, including a deadly accident earlier this year at a military test range.

While the Kremlin has not confirmed specifics, the incident is suspected to have involved a nuclear-powered cruise missile known as the Burevestnik or Skyfall.

On Tuesday, an advanced Russian Su-57 fighter crashed during a test flight in the Khabarovsk region, Russian state news agencies reported.

State news agency TASS cited military industry officials as saying that a preliminary investigation concluded the crash was caused by a technical failure of the aircraft control system.

The pilot ejected safely, TASS reported.

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