Russia has announced it's ready to start field trials on its RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, intended to replace the existing R-36M2 Voevoda (NATO designation SS-18 "Satan").
According to this report, quoting Russian news agency Zvezda, the two-stage, liquid-fuelled RS-28 tips the scales at 100 tonnes, and is capable of delivering up to 12 warheads via its multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) payload at a range of 10,000km.
The RS-28 boasts "an array of advanced antimissile countermeasures" plus "higher speed performance", designed to thwart any anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system.
The allegedly unstoppable missile is "capable of wiping out parts of the earth the size of Texas or France", Zvezda cheerfully explains.
Further tech details are not forthcoming, although it's assumed the RS-28s will use the same RD-274 engine cluster (4 x RD-273 units) burning a hypergolic mix of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and N2O4 (nitrogen textroxide) that lift the R-36M2 Voevoda. The advantage of this system is that the fuel components are comparatively easy to store over long periods, as opposed to cryogenic fuels.
The first tests of the RS-28 will take place at Plesetsk cosmodrome sometime in the summer. When it enters service in 2018, the new ICBM will occupy the same silos currently housing the R-36M2, although the facilities will require modification to accommodate the Son of Satan.
Russia hopes to completely replace the ageing R-36M2 - of which it has deployed 58 since 1988 - by 2020. ®