Which missile replaces Satan – the Russia’s nuclear guarantor

MOSCOW, (BM) – The most potent weapon of the Russian Federation, positioned by the world expert community as a highly effective instrument of nuclear deterrence, remains the R-36M2 Voyevoda (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missile, which took up combat duty in the mid-seventies of the last century.

Nevertheless, the schedule presupposes the creation of a modern ICBM capable not only of replacing the Voevoda but of rendering useless the vaunted American missile defense system, despite the latter’s permanent build-up of its combat capabilities. This task is solving by the newest promising silo-based combat complex RS-28 “Sarmat”.

Sarmat – an icon of the world media

The uniqueness of this achievement of domestic missile designers lies in the fact that this strategic complex has become an active participant in hostilities, having not yet become armed with the Strategic Missile Forces units. The RS-28 is already successfully fighting on the fronts of the information war waged against our country. Even considering that information regarding the combat capabilities of the Sarmat by officials keeps in the strictest confidence, the world media periodically reports about the advantages of a new promising complex created by the Russian defense industry. The replacement rocket for the terrifying Satan cannot be worse by definition.

The need to create a promising silo-based strategic missile system is due to several objective factors: the Voevoda, which formed the basis of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces R-36M, with its power holding back the impulses of overseas hawks for more than three decades, has become obsolete.

The degree of Satan’s vulnerability to US missile defense systems is higher than the level that is considered acceptable at the current stage of development of Russian strategic missile weapons. The sanctions war unfolded by the West against the Russian Federation and the colonization of Ukraine, on whose territory the lion’s share of production facilities, specialized in the manufacture of R-36M, remained, significantly limited the modernization capabilities of the Voevoda.

Thus, the decision to develop and create a promising new missile capable of carrying kinetic warheads and equipped with an effective anti-missile defense system became quite logical.

The first disagreements in defining the concept of a new rocket arose when choosing the type of power plant. The apologists for solid propellant engines justified their position because the reduction of such an important parameter as the thrown mass makes it possible to create a light version of the ICBM, suitable for launching from a mobile installation.

The objections of the supporters of the liquid engine argued as follows. Recognizing the lesser degree of vulnerability of the solid-propellant version of the ICBM in the acceleration segment, they focused on the ability of the liquid version to carry an increased complex of active protection means, which ensures a high level of its protection in the final segment of the flight trajectory.

The result that ended this discussion was a solution in the style of King Solomon – the issuance of technical specifications for the design of both proposed options. Looking ahead, we note that the victory remained with the supporters of the liquid-propellant engine in the end. RS-28 “Sarmat” will receive the latest RS-99 engines (index “Product 99”), which are a deeply modernized version of the RD-263 liquid-fuel power plant. The implementation of the “Sarmat” project entrusts the JSC “State Missile Center named after Academician V. P. Makeev”.

Design features

As already noted, the promising Sarmat ICBM should take the position of the main silo-based missile for Russia’s strategic forces. Moreover, to put it into service with the Strategic Missile Forces, it will not be necessary to build new mines. The RS-28 will be perfectly adapted to the use of existing shelters.

We cannot find details of the design of the new rocket in open sources, but some information becomes available from time to time. We can glean some information by analyzing the images of the RS-28 “Sarmat”, published officially. This is how it became known about the three stages, which is not typical for ICBMs.

The increased thrust of the new RS-99 power plant based on the RD-263 provides a significant reduction in the duration of the active section of the flight trajectory, which seriously complicates the task of enemy missile defense systems. After all, it is in this area that an intercontinental ballistic missile is most vulnerable. In addition, the reduced acceleration time allows the RS-28 to enter the combat trajectory without crossing the boundaries of the missile defense detection and destruction zone.

The combination of the new engine with some of the possible variants of the combat load is capable of positively affecting the critical parameters of the Sarmat ICBM, for example, increasing its flight range. As an indirect confirmation of this postulate, one can consider the statement made in 2014 by Yuri Borisov, who was the deputy head of the Russian defense department. In particular, he said: “A feature of the promising SR-28 missile system should be considered the absence of certain range restrictions. The flight route of the Sarmat combat unit can run not only along the shortest trajectory, that is, through the North Pole but even through the South Pole. Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke on this topic, confirming the increased firing range of the RS-28 compared to its predecessor, the R-36M Voevoda. How much this information corresponds to reality, time will tell.

The power plant RS-99 accelerates the “Sarmat” to a speed slightly lower than that required to launch such a thrown mass into orbit. All this provides it with the ability to approach the target on a “free” trajectory, which practically nullifies the efforts of the Pentagon to organize the defense of US territory from a nuclear attack, which has been created to date. Adequate protection against Sarmat can only be guaranteed by an anti-missile defense system built along the perimeter of the US land and sea borders, which is unrealistic both technically and financially.

The specialists of JSC “State Missile Center named after Academician V.P. Makeev” are considering three possible variants of the warhead for the RS-28:

  • equipped with several maneuvering blocks;
  • multiple-warhead with individual guidance units, which has an effective complex of means of overcoming missile defense;
  • using from three to six warheads “Object 4202 / 15Yu71”.

It is noteworthy that more than ten Avangard hypersonic guided units could be used as the RS-28 “Sarmat” warhead. Accurate information about their technical and operational characteristics is no more, if not less, than about the rocket. Still, the developers do not make a big secret from the presence of their power plants, separable charges, and control systems.


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