Russia has said it will soon publicly reveal its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) RS-28 Sarmat (NATO reporting name, Satan-2) despite reporting critical delays in production of key components of this heavy ICBM.
The Sarmat manufacturer is working “virtually 24/7” to create the new ICBM, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has announced.
This indicates that the work to develop the new deterrent weapon is of strategic importance to Russia.
The RS-28 Sarmat is a heavy ICBM with a liftoff weight of 100 tons and a payload of 10 tons. It will replace R-20V/R-36M2 Voevoda (NATO reporting name, Satan) of Russia’s Strategic Missile Troops when deliveries are to begin after 2020. R-36M is the world’s heaviest and most threatening strategic missile which weighs 211 tons and carries a payload of 8.8 tons.
“Not only will the Sarmat weigh less than its predecessor, it will also have a longer range,” Viktor Litovkin, a military analyst with TASS news agency. “The Satan has a range of 11,000 km, whereas the Sarmat will be able to fly to 17,000 km.
Litovkin added that the Sarmat will carry not 10 but at least 15 multiple re-entry vehicles (MIRV), each with a yield of between 150 and 300 kilotons. The vehicles will be arranged into a “grapevine,” and each will separate and continue to its individual target in accordance with the warhead’s preprogrammed algorithm.
Retired Lieutenant General Viktor Yesin, former commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Troops, says the Sarmat will have a hypersonic speed of over Mach 5 or 6 and will be constantly changing altitude in flight to avoid being intercepted by any anti-missile system.
“Not a single enemy anti-missile system, whether existing or prospective, will be able to intercept the Sarmat: The missile will not care whether there is such a system or not,” Yesin explained.
The Strategic Missile Troops divisions stationed outside of Krasnoyarsk (4,150 km to the east of Moscow) and Orenburg (1,450 km to the east of Moscow) will be the first (in Russian) to receive the new missiles.
At least 154 silos will be left over from the Voyevoda (154 have already been destroyed as part of the START I strategic arms reduction treaty). Not all of these remaining silos will be used to house the Sarmat; the number of such missiles in Russia’s arsenal will need to meet the START III requirements, in accordance to which Russia and the U.S. are each to have no more than 700 deployed ICBMs with a total of 1,550 nuclear warheads by Feb. 5, 2018.
“Each Sarmat will carry 15 MIRVs; at present, according to open source data, Russia maintains 521 deployed ICBMs with 1,735 MIRVs,” Litovkin said. “The US has 741 ICBMs with 1,4871 MIRVs.”