The Upcoming Test of RS-28 "Sarmat" Super-heavy ICBM by Russia
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The Upcoming Test of RS-28 "Sarmat" Super-heavy ICBM by Russia

IndraStra Global Editorial Team

Image Attribute: Russia’s liquid-fuelled RS-28 Sarmat, or the ‘Satan 2 / Source: Twitter Handle @DoctorNoFI

Image Attribute: Russia’s liquid-fuelled RS-28 Sarmat, or the ‘Satan 2 / Source: Twitter Handle @DoctorNoFI

The RS-28 Sarmat (NATO codename name: SS-X-30 Satan 2) is the state-of-the-art heavy-weight liquid-propelled Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) currently being developed for the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces (Raketnye Voyska Strategicheskogo Naznacheniya/RVSN). It is designed to replace the old Soviet R-36M missiles Voyevoda, as the heavy silo-based component of Russia's nuclear deterrence. The RS-28 has been in development since 2009 and is scheduled to start replacing the old ICBMs in 2018. According to the sources, Krasnoyarsk Machine-Building Plant - the manufacturer of the sea-based ICBMs - is ready to start mass production of super-heavy thermonuclear armed Sarmat missiles.

According to the sources, Russia may conduct a pop-up test of the prototype in October 2017. The test is said to be held on Plesetsk cosmodrome. It will be conducted to check the work of the powdered launch accelerator, which pushes the rocket out of the silo and then controls the behavior of the rocket afterward. The Sarmat ICBM will fall within the perimeter of the range ground, a source said.

RS-28 Sarmat: Technical Specifications


In accordance with a resolution passed by the Government of the Russian Federation, a State Defense Order was issued in the year 2010 which entrusted JSC "GRC Makeyev" (Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau) to start developing the "RS-28 Sarmat". In June 2011, the Russian Ministry of Defense signed a state contract for the development and deployment of the Sarmat Advanced Strategic Missile System (RKSN) which has been created in order to guarantee and effectively fulfill the tasks of nuclear deterrence by RVSN.

In May 2016, Russia's news network Zvezda reported that the-the missile will be ready for field trials in the summer of 2016. According to the Daily Mail, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to put the Sarmat into service in late 2018, and remove the last SS-18 missile by 2020.

In August 2016, Russia successfully conducted a test of the first stage engine of  RS-28 Sarmat, a source familiar with the situation reported via Interfax

The advanced propulsion unit PDU-99 (also known as "Product 99"/"Order 99") was developed by the Moscow-based NPO "Energomash" to power the 1st stage of the missile. Its production was transferred to the Perm-based PJSC "Proton-PM". Currently, basic characteristics of the new engine are still unknown.

Deployment Plan

On December 2014, the Russian state-media RIA Novosti quoted (through an unnamed defense industry source) that the Sarmat heavy ICBM will be eventually be deployed with two divisions - in Dombarovskiy (Orenburg Region) and Uzhur (Krasnoyarsk Territory). It is expected that the total of seven regiments with 46 missiles will be deployed (six missiles in a regiment plus one ten-missile regiment). A point to be noted - only these two divisions have silos that are large enough to accommodate a large missile. Although it's quite possible that the SS-19/SS-24 silos would have worked as well - Sarmat appears to be in the SS-19 rather than in SS-18 category.

The missile can carry 10 individually targeted warheads (MIRVs) 750 kilotons each and it can be further optimized to carry up to 15 warheads with various weight combinations. According to a Chinese strategic studies expert associated with Military Command Institute of the Missile Forces of the People's Republic of China, believes that there will be two versions of a missile with different reserves of fuel to lock and attack targets in the U.S. and the Western Europe. The initial weight of the missile with a target in the United States is 150-200 tons, the range of flight estimated to be 16,000 kilometers with a payload of 5 tons. The range of the missile aimed at Western European countries estimated between 9,000-10,000 km, the launch mass is approximately 100-120 tons and the maximum projectile ejection mass is 10 tons.

Russia has also been working on a new Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV), the Yu-71, a warhead purportedly capable of penetrating any missile defense shield that can be mounted on the SR-28,  a delivery vehicle reportedly capable of carrying nuclear warheads at Mach 10 and less susceptible to U.S. anti-ballistic countermeasures. According to Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Yu-71 was first test-flown in February 2015 as a part of an ongoing escalated effort by the Kremlin to overcome U.S. missile defenses, known as Project 4202.

Unlike Moscow’s bold strategic bomber flights that have repeatedly penetrated the American Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), details about the Yu-71 has been cloaked in secrecy. Reports indicate the first test flight was unsuccessful after it was launched atop an SS-19 missile into space from the Dombarovskiy base in Eastern Russia.

Project 4202 could turn out a limited number of glide vehicles armed with nuclear warheads by 2020, and up to 24 with new hypersonic payloads could be deployed at the Dombarovskiy base between 2020 and 2025, the Jane's Intelligence Review said. Reports indicate that by then, Russia could potentially deploy a new ICBM that could carry the Yu-71. Viktor Murakhovsky, Member of the Expert Council of the Military-Industrial Commission under the Government of the Russian Federation confirmed in an interview about the development of Yu-71 as a controlled combat unit, which is in turn closely associated with the current development of Sarmat ICBM.

Map Attribute: Dombarovskiy is the home of the 13th Dombarovskiy Red Banner Division, 31st Missile Army of the Strategic Rocket Forces. Up to 10 units of Strategic Rocket Forces were based in the area, covering anywhere from 6 to 10 operational silos. At the peak of operations, Dombarovskiy maintained a total of 64 silos on full alert. By 2002, according to the Russian press, the number had dropped to 52. The missiles deployed in the region were primarily the RS-20 type and its sub-variants. / Source: Google Maps.


One of the central ideas of the Sarmat ICBM is the revival of the concept called "Orbital Bombardment". Erstwhile Soviet rocket forces once deployed "8K69 Orbital Missiles" in 1962, which was an effective way to circumvent the current anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense by attacking enemy territory through multiple trajectories, including through the South Pole. The Soviet Union withdrew 8K69 orbital missiles in January 1983 to meet the terms of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT-2) and soon the regiments were disbanded. This treaty introduced a restriction on the deployment of nuclear weapons in outer space. Sarmat is intended to bypass currently deployed missile defense systems by the United States and may prompt the latter to create a "360° Anti-missile Defense System", which is significantly more expensive than current THAAD batteries which are designed to intercept the conventional flight trajectory of Russian warheads launched from silo-based ICBMs.

Motives and Motivations

The primary reason for Russia to develop Sarmat is to maintain strategic Russian-American parity and guarantee its own security. The missiles, which are now in service, SS-25, SS-18, SS-19, have already been exceeded the operational lifespan and gradually becoming obsolete. Due to a lack of funding, the pace of replacement of the RS-24 "Yars" ballistic missiles lags behind the pace of write-offs. Therefore, with limited funds, Russia intends to fully utilize the SS-18 infrastructure and command posts, and accelerate the development of a deterrent arsenal of heavy ICBMs and at the same time it wants to use Sarmat program as one of the strong bargaining chips against the United States when the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (the New START Treaty) expires in the year 2021.