Russia says its new hypersonic weapon is a technological breakthrough on the scale of Sputnik - the first satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.

The Avangard is launched on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile. But unlike a regular missile warhead, it can swerve sharply, making it much harder to intercept.

The development is a concern for the United States, which is also having to contend with China's development of hypersonic arms. Beijing displayed the Dong Feng 17 at a military parade in October.  

The US defence secretary has said developing the technology is a priority.  

So will the Avangard, which Russia says can fly at 27 times the speed of sound, change the balance of power?

Presenter: Dareen Abughaida


Pavel Felgenhauer - defence and military analyst

Tariq Rauf - nuclear arms control specialist

Paul Schulte - former director of proliferation and arms control at the British Ministry of Defence

Source: Al Jazeera