Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Russia Claims Deployment of 'Sarmat' Heavy ICBM with 16 Nukes by 2018

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(Photo : TASS) Russian hypersonic glide vehicle warhead.

Russia continues to forge ahead with developing its new super-heavy RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) while also working on its revolutionary warhead -- a hypersonic nuclear glide vehicle and nuclear warhead.

Sarmat is designed to be far ahead of United States' missile systems, specifically Prompt Global Strike (PGS). This U.S. system (still in development) plans to deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon anywhere in the world within one hour.

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The PGS program is looking at using conventional surface-launched missiles and air- and submarine-launched hypersonic missiles, but the most interesting is the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) glide vehicle successfully tested in 2011.

Some Russian analysts believe Sarmat will comprise 100% of Russia's silo-based ICBM force. Sarmat will have a range of 10,000 kilometers and a speed of Mach 20 (24,500 km/h).

Russia optimistically announced an initial deployment of Sarmat in 2018, two years ahead of schedule despite reports to the contrary from western sources. Western military analysts, however, said the more realistic deployment date is 2020 considering new production of the missile is confirmed as behind schedule.

Sarmat will replace the RS-36 ICBMs and space launch vehicles that entered service in the 1970s and 1980s. Sarmat is being developed by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau in the city of Miass east of the Ural Mountains.

The missile can be armed with up to 10 heavy warheads, or 16 lighter ones, or a combination of warheads and countermeasures to defeat U.S. anti-missile defense systems.

Of special interest, however, is "Project 4202," part of which is the Yu-71, a maneuvering hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) or warhead that can accelerate to speeds between Mach 7 and Mach 12. Yu-71's maneuverability will allow it to overcome any existing or prospective U.S. anti-missile defense.

Russia military analysts surmise that if Russia can develop a Yu-71 into a Mach 12 boost and glide HGV, state-of-the-art U.S. anti-missile defense systems will be absolutely impotent against it. Project 4202 will also render ineffective planned U.S. anti-missile systems and those not yet developed.

Russian sources said tests of Project 4202 are being carried out using obsolete RS-18B Stiletto ICBMs that boost the HGVs in flight.

Once Project 4202 becomes operational, it will arm the RS-28 Sarmat as and future versions of this ICBM. These improved Sarmats are expected to appear from 2020 through 2025. Russia plans to first produce 20 Yu-71s.

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