The Avangard hypersonic missile, which can fly above Mach 5 and can carry a nuclear payload, was put into service Friday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry and the BBC. Although it still remains unclear if the missile is ready for use or whether it is just in an advanced phase of field testing, its deployment by the ministry has created concerns among Western countries. The hypersonic missile contains a “boost-glide” system, which launches in a similar manner to an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), but instead of following an arc-like pattern of travel above the atmosphere, the re-entry mechanism allows the missile to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere rapidly before gliding, potentially long distances, toward its target. This new system enhanced the missile’s maneuverability when moving towards its intended target, making anti-missile defense systems unable to effectively target the gliding missile, which are dependent on heat signatures radiating from traditional ICBMs. The announcement by the ministry comes amid increasing concerns of a new nuclear arms race, as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to modernize Russia’s aging military infrastructure and weapons, largely from prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.The United States has also sought to enhance its anti-ballistic missile program by renewing new initiatives focused on space and missile defense. Washington has claimed that the new programs are aimed at combating the threat posed by North Korea and Iran. Similarly, the new START treaty, which limits the amount of ICBMs that both the United States and Russia may possess, is set to expire in February 2021. While Russia has expressed willingness to extend the terms of the agreement, Washington has thus far remained silent on the issue.