Amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia, 2022 also stands as a year declared for the Russian RS-28 Sarmat missile to make its first test flight and enter the services in the latter part of the year.
The missile is a liquid-fueled, MIRV-equipped super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which is intended to replace the R-36M ICBM, also known as SS-18 Satan. As per official reports, in the later 2020s, the state plans twenty missile regiments to be rearmed with the RS-28.
It was initially scheduled to enter the services in 2018 with 50 missiles on order; however, due to multiple technical delays, it was then planned to enter the services in 2021. Reports suggest that the missile shall be operational in the latter part of the year.
All You Need To Know About RS-28
The missile is a three-stage, liquid-fuelled weapon having a range of around 18,000 km with a launch weight of 208.1 metric tons.
The missile is expected to be equipped with the capability of carrying around 10 tonnes
of payload, particularly for 15 light Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicle warheads or 10 heavy warheads, a combination of massive amounts of countermeasures and warheads against anti-ballistic missile systems or an unspecified count of Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles.
Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry had claimed the missile of being a response to the U.S. Prompt Global Strike system, which is an effort to develop a system capable of delivering a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere across the globe within an hour.
The missile is known as the largest nuclear weapon of the state with a length of 35.3 meters, along with being one of the six latest weapons of mass destruction revealed by Putin back in 2018. The other five missiles are a nuclear-propelled cruise missile, Kinzel, Poseidon, Avangard and Tsirkon.
Any missile that contains MRVs is generally launched towards the target in a high-altitude ballistic trajectory. Distinct targets would be struck either by individual warheads within a limited ballistic footprint or the same target would be hit by several warheads from the same missile, thereby increasing the likelihood of eradicating the particular target.
Is It Better Than R-36M?
The initial variants of the missile were designed to have either a MIRV or just a single warhead capability. That said, in the Soviet arsenal, these two staged weapon was the first to be pressurized by a “controlled fire” in the fuel and oxidizer tanks. During the 1970s, The Mods underwent various tests displaying a 1,000 m CEP. Now, these missiles could reach distances maximum of 16,000 km depending upon the model. However, in 1983, these mods were phased out for the 4th variant.
This variant was particularly designed to enhance the SS-18’s accuracy and tactical performance over the earlier mods. Greater range was allowed by the reduced warhead yield, while the ability to carry more warheads was also witnessed. Soon this variant of the missile began to get replaced by mod 5 and 6.
As of 2016, only Mod 6 (Voevoda) remains operational while it entered the services and Mod 5 in 1988. With an accuracy of 500 m CEP and an 8 MT warhead, the Mod 5 contained a single re-entry vehicle and equipped a range of 16,000 km.
Having a range of 11,000 km, the Mod 6 has 10 MIRV, with each warhead having a 500-750 kT yield. These missiles received improved decoys and penetration aids, improved protection against nuclear warhead effects, increased MIRV coverage, and a rapid re-targeting capability.
However, after the RS-28 Sarmat becomes operational, the Mod 6 might rest its services for Russia’s armed forces.