Russia is nearing completion of its new RS-28 Sarmat missile, also known as the SS-X-30 “Satan II” missile. Russia has previously claimed the missile can carry more warheads than any other missile, and destroy an area the size of Texas or France.
In his annual press conference in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the new missile is nearly finished, saying, “We are in the final stages.”
In 2016, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), an international nuclear watchdog, reported the Sarmat may be able to carry as many as 10 heavy nuclear warheads or 15 medium warheads, potentially allowing the missile to disperse multiple nuclear blasts across a wide area. By comparison, the U.S. LGM-30G Minuteman III can carry up to three nuclear warheads
The Russian military news station TV Zvezda reported at the time that the missile would be able to destroy an area the size of Texas.
On Dec. 30, Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Alexey Krivoruchko told the Russian military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda that tests had confirmed the Sarmat’s ability to carry payloads of warheads and said, “In the near future, we will begin flight tests of this missile system.”
It is unclear when flight tests for the Sarmat missile may begin. Russia has conducted several tests of its nuclear missiles in recent months, including a sea test of its 3M-22 Tsirkon (Zircon) missile, capable of flying at speeds in excess of Mach 8, or about
Adding to the potential threat of the missiles, TV Zvezda reported in 2016 that the missile’s payload would be able to defeat any country’s missile defense systems.
During his December press conference, Putin said Russia’s move to develop weapons that could overwhelm any missile defense system came as a reaction to efforts to improve U.S. missile defense systems in recent years.
“One country started building an umbrella for itself. What did this mean? This would have made our nuclear capability completely irrelevant,” Putin said. “What were we supposed to do? We had to do everything we could to prevent this: either build a missile defense shield on our own, or develop systems that would not be affected by these missile defenses. This is what we did in developing hypersonic weapons.”
At the same press year-end conference, Putin claimed Russia is “already in” a new arms race with the U.S. and said it has been since the U.S. backed out of a missile defense treaty. Putin did not say which missile defense treaty he was referring to, but President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in February of 2019. According to the Washington Examiner, Putin may have actually been referring to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, which President George W. Bush withdrew from in 2002.