Russia tests RS-28 Sarmat or Satan 2 ICBM, routine and does not violate anything says the U.S.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

On April 20, Russia announced its first successful launch of the RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region. Sarmat is called Satan 2 by Western analysts. 

The missile was launched from a Silo in the northern Plesetsk space station with a training warhead and landed on a training ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East.

The design characteristics have been confirmed at all stages of its flight. The training warheads were delivered by the missile in a given area at the Kura training ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Flight tests of a promising heavy-class missile with multiple warheads made it possible to assess the schematic design’s correctness and technical solutions while creating the Sarmat missile system, the Russian Defence Ministry press service said.

The MoD said the Sarmat missile has “unique characteristics that allow it to reliably overcome any existing and future missile defense systems” and “significantly increase the combat power of [Russia’s] strategic nuclear forces.” Sarmat has a short “boost” phase that soars shortly after launch and is designed to escape enemy detection and evade missile defense systems.

The Sarmat system is totally developed in Russia. “The missile’s mass and energy characteristics have expanded its range of weaponry, both in the number of warheads and in types, including gliding hypersonic section,” said the MoD statement

Along with the hypersonic ballistic missiles Kinzhal and Avangard, Sarmat is the next-generation missile that Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted as ‘invincible’. Russia announced last month that it used Kinzjal for the first time in the invasion of Ukraine.

With a weight of over 200 tons and the ability to carry multiple warheads, Putin says he can attack any target on the ground. 

On September 2, Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of the Roscosmos state corporation, said the Sarmat would serve as the Russian nuclear shield for 30-40 years.

ICBM Sarmat was developed at the Makeev State Missile Center. The liquid-fuelled missile can deliver multiple reentry vehicles (MIRV) weighing up to 10 tons to any part of the world, both through the North and South Poles. The missile can deliver warheads along trajectories that make it much more difficult for them to be destroyed even by promising missile defense systems.


The Russian defense ministry said the missile launch was the first in the program of state tests, after which the Sarmat missile systems will go into service with the Strategic Missile Forces.

“At the Uzhurskiy missile formation in Krasnoyarsk Territory, preparations are underway to rearm the main missile regiment with the new missile system. Promising Sarmat missile system will replace Voyevoda,” said the Russian MoD statement.

Dubbed, Satan by the Western Analysts, RS-20 Voevoda or the SS-18 was first tested in February 1973 and put into service on December 30, 1975. 

RS-20 missiles in various modifications with a launch weight of up to 211 tons can carry from one to 10, according to some sources – up to 16, warheads with a total weight of up to 8.8 thousand kg for a range of more than 10 thousand km. Sarmat is lighter and can carry more weight. 

The latest modification is the R-36M2 Voevoda, which is known to be the deep modification of the very first R-36 missile. R-36M2 is also called RS-20V.

The two-stage rocket with a length of more than 34 m and a diameter of 3 m was created by NPO Yuzhnoye located in Dnepropetrovsk. 

As per the New Start procedure, the first two R-36M2 Voevoda ICBMs are to be dismantled by November 30, 2020. As per previous reports, after the dismantling, Russia recovered 1.2 kg of gold, about 19 kg of silver, 54.5 grams of platinum, about 20 tons of non-ferrous metals and about 6 tons of ferrous metals.

In 2011, Russia had 74 launchers with Voevoda missiles. The ones that were removed from combat duty were converted into the commercial Dnepr launch vehicle which launched about 40 foreign satellites into space orbits.

U.S. reaction

The Sarmat launch was a routine test, not a threat to the U.S., the Pentagon said, noting that Moscow had notified Washington in advance, under the terms of the still-existing arms control treaty.

“Russia has duly notified the U.S., in accordance with its New START obligations, that it plans to test this ICBM,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, adding that the test was “routine” and the U.S. Department of Defense deemed it “not deemed the test to be a threat to the United States and its allies.”

The missile has been known to be in production for many years. The launch was carried out weeks ahead of Russia’s Victory Day celebrations marking the end of World War II in Europe on May 9, which is accompanied by a military parade and other tributes to Russian veterans.


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