Will ‘Sarmat’ ballistic missiles fly before being put on combat duty?

This post was published in VPK. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


WARSAW, (BM) – At the end of March this year, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, speaking at the Federation Council, said that the Russian defense industry is fully prepared for the start of serial production of the RS-28 Sarmat super-heavy ICBM silo-based [SS-X-30 according to NATO classification].

The modernization of production at the Krasnoyarsk Machine-Building Plant was completed. And very soon, in the workshops of the renovated plant, they will begin to build the most powerful missiles in the world, surpassing the current “record holder” in combat capabilities – the R-36M2 “Voyevoda” ICBM, which is called “Satan” in the West. But when this “very soon” will come is a big question.

If we always had the assurances of top officials come true, and deviations from the approved plans would be minimal, then the technical readiness of the rocket and, accordingly, its launch into series would be completely on the nose – at a distance of several months.

Because the first missiles should begin to enter the 62nd missile division of the Strategic Missile Forces [the village of Solnechny, Uzhursky District of the Krasnoyarsk Territory] and the 13th Missile Division of the Strategic Missile Forces [the city of Yasny, Orenburg Region] in 2021 for putting on combat duty. And 2021 will begin in 4 months.

However, the immediate deployment of the production of a rocket, which has never taken off, is too risky not only for the strategic security of our country, but can also cause a lot of misfortunes all over the world. That is, the situation with the new missile is getting quite complicated.

The customer, the Ministry of Defense, had a limited choice of developers. Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering [MIT], specializing in the creation of solid-propellant missiles for the Strategic Missile Forces – both mobile and mine. And the State Missile Center. Makeev in Miass, who had previously developed liquid-propellant ICBMs for submarines.

At the end of the 2000s, when the decision was made to create a new ground-based ICBM, MIT was already engaged in the most important development of the Bulava ballistic missile for the Borey nuclear submarine. That is, it turned out that he took the bread from the Makeevites. But justice prevailed – the development of “Sarmat” went to the Miass SRC. That is, it turned out to be a kind of castling.

And this was quite logical, because it was in the SRC named after Makeev, the R-29RMU2 “Sineva” rocket was created, which has a record energy and mass perfection [the ratio of the payload mass to the launch mass of the rocket, reduced to the launch range] among all ballistic missiles of submarines. It is this parameter that is one of the most important for the Sarmat missile.

The result was an ICBM with energy characteristics unattainable for other missiles. By varying the ratio of the combat load and the amount of fuel filled into the fuel tanks, it is possible to obtain different flight ranges with access to a suborbital trajectory. That is, it is possible to bombard any point on the globe, and with a missile approaching from any direction.

The rocket was ready in 2016. After that, a dead zone began, which lasted 1.5 years, which was explained by the fact that the silo launcher was not ready by the start of the tests. The first throw tests took place in December 2017. Two more – in March and May 2018.

At the end of 2020, but not a single flight test was carried out. One of the reasons – and there are undoubtedly several of them – has become known. And she is of a criminal nature. The Prosecutor General’s Office found that out of the 3.2 billion rubles allocated to Roscosmos for the preparation of tests, about a billion could have been withdrawn and cashed by the contracting company Moskapstroy LLC through a chain of one-day deals.


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