Russia’s new RS-28 Sarmat (ICBM) is capable of destroying an area the size of Texas or France

Rapid Fire | Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Russia’s new RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is capable of destroying an area the size of Texas or France according to the Defense Ministry run TV network, Zvezda. The ICBM is set to undergo field tests this summer, and will replace the older silo-based RS-36M and will enter service in 2018. While little is known about the technical details of Sarmat, the missile is believed to be a two-stage missile with an estimated operational range of 10,000km and a mass of at least 100 tons, including a payload weighing from 4 tons up to 10 tons.

Defense Industry Daily


RS-28 Sarmat

Note: Not actual RS-28 pic for reference only

Sarmat Development

Designed as part of Russia’s nuclear modernization effort in order to replace the aging SS-18 Satan ICBM force. The Sarmat was first flight tested in 2016. The missile is expected to enter active service in 2018, with all 50 missiles current on order fielded by 2020. The Sarmat is similar to its predecessor in appearance and function, but will use upgraded electronics and guidance systems, warhead options, and countermeasures.1

In addition to some capability enhancements, the RS-28 aimed at overcoming obsolescence issues facing much of the Russian ICBM fleet. According to Robert Kelley, a former Department of Energy nuclear weapons expert, “Your iPhone can do thousands of more things than in the 1970s when these systems (the Satan) were first deployed. Many of the clunky electronic circuits of that era no longer exist and nobody knows how to make them anymore… the reliability, flexibility, and confidence in the warheads ability to hit their targets will go way up.”2 The Sarmat, with its new electronics and guidance system is estimated to have a 10 m CEP, which makes it capable of targeting hardened sites like missile silos.3

The Sarmat has a variety of warhead options. The missile is reported by Russian media as being able to carry 10 large warheads, 16 smaller ones, a combination of warheads and countermeasures, or up to 24 YU-74 hypersonic boost-glide vehicles.4 5

In total, the yield of a Sarmat’s warheads is around 8 mT.6

Sarmat at a Glance

Originated from: Russia
Possessed by: Russia
Class: Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
Alternate names: SS-X-30 Satan II
Basing: Silo-based
Length: 36.3 m
Diameter: 3.0 m
Launch Weight: Unknown
Payload: 10-24 MIRV, HE or nuclear, possibly hypersonic glide vehicles
Propulsion: Liquid-fueled
Range: 10,000+ km
Status: In development
In Service: 2020 (est.)


RD-274 Rocket Engine (Stage I propulsion)

15D119 (RD-264)

Glushko N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. Developed 1975-85. Upgrade of RD-264 engine with increased chamber pressure and thrust. Development stopped due to problems with turbopump shaft balance.

Status: Developed 1975-85. Date: 1975-85. Thrust: 4,952.00 kN (1,113,253 lbf). Specific impulse: 296 s. Specific impulse sea level: 296 s.

Other sources say development was completed and the engine was built for the R-36M2 ICBM. Consists of four RD-273 engines.

Chambers: 4. Chamber Pressure: 226.00 bar.  Source

RD-0256 Rocket Engine (Stage 2)

Kosberg N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. R-36M2 / RS-20V (SS-18 Mod-4) stage 2. Out of Production. Main engine of system RD-0255. Staged combustion cycle. First flight 1987.

Status: Out of Production. Date: 1983-89. Source

Borisov revealed that ‘Sarmat’ is a fifth generation weapon, with capabilities more advanced than that of previous generation ICBMs. The top speed of the missile is 6.7 km per second (approximately 25,000 km per hour), allowing it to strike targets within the continental US in less than 30 minutes. While the SS-18 can sidewind (move in a series of S-shaped curves to evade antimissile defences) only in certain stages of its flight, the new missile manoeuvres all the way so it is near impossible for missile defence systems to shoot it down.

The Sarmat’s development is happening in sync with Russia’s Project 4202, a hypersonic glide warhead project, which is expected to come online between 2020 and 2025. This means that instead of freefalling warheads that ICBMs carry, the Sarmat’s multiple warheads will accelerate to their target at speeds seven to 12 times faster than the speed of sound.

Quite simply, the Sarmat is Russia’s answer to the threat of missile defence systems being designed by the US to undermine the global strategic balance. Source

Its large payload of about 10 tonnes would allow for up to 10 heavy warheads or 15 lighter ones or up to 24 hypersonic glide vehicles Yu-71/Yu-74 or a combination of warheads and massive amounts of countermeasures designed to defeat anti-missile systems.

It is the Russian military response to the U.S. hypersonic weapon’s program (Prompt Global Strike).

It is suspected to have a Fractional Orbital Bombardment (FOBS) capability. The Fractional Orbital Bombardment System objective was to bypass the weapon detection systems in the United States. Nuclear warheads are briefly placed into the Earth’s orbit. After orbiting for a short period of time, the bombs would deploy and fall to their targets from space. The system shares many similarities with the concept of kinetic bombardment systems, with the exception of the use of a nuclear warhead as opposed to an inert projectile. This weapon system also had no range limit and the orbital flight path would not reveal the target location. The RS-28 could fly a trajectory over the South Pole, completely bypassing any current U.S. missile defense system.

RS-28 has a short boost phase which makes it tougher to counter or track.

The RS-28 will replace the SS-18 by around 2023 or 2025. In early 2017, prototype missiles had been reportedly built and testing has started in 2018. Source

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle: Details


To put some historical figures on this we turned to Nukemap, a fascinating (if macabre) nuclear weapon simulator. According to Nukemap’s data, detonating Little Boy, the same weapon we dropped on Hiroshima, directly over Manhattan would kill 263,560 people and injure another 512,000. The worst effects would be concentrated on lower Manhattan, as would the devastation. Increase to a 50MT weapon, and the casualties rise to 7.63 million dead and another 4.19 million injured. Source

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