According to reported comments by the head of the country’s space agency, Moscow has placed into service an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile that Russian President Vladimir Putin said will make Russia’s opponents “think twice” about their threats.
Sarmat missiles have “assumed combat duty,” according to Yuri Borisov, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, reports Russian news agencies on Friday.
“The Sarmat strategic system has assumed combat alert posture,” the state-run TASS news agency quoted the Roscosmos chief as saying.
“Based on experts’ estimates, the RS-28 Sarmat is capable of delivering a MIRVed warhead weighing up to 10 tonnes to any location worldwide, both over the North and South Poles,” TASS said in its report.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said on Friday that he was unable to confirm claims that Russia had placed the Sarmat on battle readiness.
Putin said in February that the Sarmat, one of several cutting-edge weapons in Russia’s arsenal, will soon be ready for use.
In 2022, some two months after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, Putin said the Sarmat would “reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those, who in the heat of aggressive rhetoric try to threaten our country, think twice”.
Russian officials say that the underground Sarmat missile, which is silo-based, has a maximum payload capacity of 15 nuclear warheads, however the US military believes it has a maximum capacity of 10 warheads.
The missile, code-named “Satan” by NATO military allies, is said to have a short initial launch phase that leaves little time for surveillance equipment to track its takeoff.
The Sarmat, a more than 200-ton missile with an 18,000 km (11,000 mi) range, was created to replace Russia’s earlier generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICMBs), which were built in the 1980s.
In April 2022, Russia conducted a test firing of the Sarmat missile in the Plesetsk area, around 800 kilometres (nearly 500 miles) north of Moscow. The launched missiles struck targets in the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s far east.
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