In an episode of 60 Minutes on Russia 1 TV, Russian opinion-makers discussed the country's military supremacy. Show host Yevgeny Popov stressed: "All of you, of course, remember Krushchev's call to catch up and overtake America. So, we did it!" He then added that the U.S. has no choice but to catch up to Russia.
Presenting the Russian hypersonic Tsirkon missile, Popov stated: "It's very, very difficult to catch up with a state that has hypersonic weapons. They [the U.S.] only can... I don't know, envy us in silence? But the Americans can't do this," Popov stated.
On the show, Russian Ground Forces Air Defense Force chief Lt.-Gen. Alexander Leonov explained how hypersonic weapons work: "Prospective air defense systems based on new physical principles are being developed for the army's air defense. A weapon that is based on physical phenomena and principles that haven't been used before for defense purposes, for example, laser, radio-frequency, beam, and kinetic engagement with an enemy, has been in creation in Russia for at least the past two years.
"After the New Year's celebrations, we will continue creating a prospective mobile air defense artillery system with a 57-mm automatic gun with enhanced ballistic properties and a set of ammunition. This combat machine is to replace the Shilka anti-aircraft system... [and] will be capable of delivering fire both on the move and from the water, eliminating small drones easily. This is not deemed reasonable for any other air defense systems, due to a number of reasons that can be summarized in a well-known phrase 'You don't need a musket to shoot a butterfly.' It's expensive and inefficient."
Center for Strategic Communications president Dmitry Abzalov said: "...Hypersonic is the ultimate weapon... If you build regular weaponry, it's no use competing with a country [i.e. the U.S.] that has an actual $448 billion budget. The thing is, we need to place our bet on a weapon that gives a crucial advantage. This is our main goal. And Moscow managed to do it... We detected the points that allow us, having a small budget, so save a colossal amount of money."
The video was translated into English by Vesti.
It is worth noting that at the December 24, 2019 Defense Ministry board meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the West is trying to catch up with Russia because no other country possesses hypersonic weapons. Putin said:
"Here is what I would like to say in this regard, which I think is critically important. Please note: Neither the Soviet Union, nor Russia have ever tried to create a threat to other countries. We were always catching up in this regard. The United States created the atomic bomb, and the Soviet Union caught up with it. We did not have nuclear weapon delivery vehicles or carriers. There was no such thing as strategic aviation, and the Soviet Union was catching up in this area, as well. The first intercontinental missiles actually were not built here, and the Soviet Union was trying to catch up.
"Today, we have a unique situation in our new and recent history. They are trying to catch up with us. Not a single country [besides us] possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons. We already have Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile systems in the field, and Peresvet laser combat systems have already been deployed with the troops as well.
"The Minister just told us that we have begun to equip the first regiment of the Strategic Missile Forces with the latest Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle. Work on other systems is underway, including the Sarmat boosted intercontinental ballistic missile; the Zircon ground- and sea-based hypersonic rockets; the Poseidon UUV; and the Burevestnik nuclear-armed cruise missile.
"Other systems have been fielded as well, including the ones that were tested during various exercises and in combat conditions in Syria, such as Kalibr cruise missiles.
"There are also other technologies. They are not covered much in the media, but they do exist, are sent to the army, and are operational.
"In this regard, I would like to say that even though we spend much less than other countries (we rank seventh at this point, the Minister said, and could even slide to ninth), this does not mean that we are ready to compromise our combat readiness. No. All we are doing we are doing according to a plan.
"At one of the board meetings I deliberately said, and maybe someone in the audience remembers it; I would like to repeat what I said back then. I didn't say it accidentally. I said it because it represents our competitive advantage and it is about our ability to maintain the defense capability we need. What exactly will help us move forward? I said then literally the following: brains, intelligence, better organization of work, minimizing theft and negligence, and concentrating efforts on key areas will lead us to a high state of defense capability." (Kremlin.ru, December 24, 2019)