The RS-28 Sarmat is a liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile currently under development by Russia.
Sarmat at a Glance
Originated from: Russia
Possessed by: Russia
Class: Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
Alternate names: SS-X-30 Satan II
Length: 36.3 m
Diameter: 3.0 m
Launch Weight: 200 metric tons
Payload: 10-24 MIRV, HE or nuclear, possibly hypersonic glide vehicles
Range: 10,000+ km
Status: In development
In Service: 2020-2021 (est.)
Designed as part of Russia’s nuclear modernization effort in order to replace the aging SS-18 Satan ICBM, the RS-28 Sarmat began first-stage testing in 2016. In December 2017, Russia’s military conducted an ejection test which reportedly revealed technical deficiencies with the silo-based launchers.1 On March 30, 2018, Russia released video footage of an apparently successful ejection test, which can assumed took place sometime in late March 2018. The RS-28 was initially planned to enter service in 2018, with all 50 missiles current on order fielded by 2020. This timetable has likely been delayed, however, and initial fielding is now anticipated in the 2020-2021 time-frame.
The Sarmat is similar to its predecessor in appearance and function, but will use upgraded electronics and guidance systems, warhead options, and countermeasures.2
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.”3 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.4
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. It may also be capable of carrying hypersonic boost-glide vehicles.5 6 In total, the yield of a Sarmat’s warheads is around 8 mT.7
- Franz-Stefan Gady, “Russia’s Strategic Rocket Force Tests Ejection of Deadly Sarmat Intercontinental Ballistic Missile,” The Diplomat, March 30, 2018, https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/russias-strategic-rocket-force-tests-ejection-of-deadly-sarmat-intercontinental-ballistic-missile/.
- Deagel, “Sarmat,” March 23, 2017, http://www.deagel.com/Ballistic-Missiles/Sarmat_a002919001.aspx.
- “Russia Unveils RS-28 Sarmat ‘Satan 2’ Nuclear Missile,” NBC News, October 26, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russia-unveils-rs-28-sarmat-satan-2-nuclear-missile-n673016.
- “First Image of RS-28 Sarmat, Russia’s Largest Ever ICBM, Unveiled,” Sputnik, October 24, 2016, https://sputniknews.com/military/201610241046655887-sarmat-image-declassified/.
- Nuclear Threat Initiative, “Russia Reportedly Approves Production of New Liquid-Fueled ICBM,” October 22, 2016, http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/russia-reportedly-approves-production-new-liquid-fueled-icbm/.”