Russia has successfully tested its new ICBM missile, the country’s Ministry of Defense has claimed, a long range weapon that could fly more than 7,000 miles. Officially known as Sarmat, the intercontinental ballistic missile has been nicknamed “Satan 2” and is the planned successor to Russia’s Soviet-era Voevoda, or SS-18 Satan, missile.
The testing took place at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, a Russian spaceport approximately 500 miles north of Moscow. The site was originally developed to launch ICBMs back in the late 1950s, though has since been used for satellite launches, often with military purpose. Indeed, it was responsible for large numbers of reconnaissance satellite launches by the USSR during the Cold War.
Now, the Russian Ministry of Defense has released what it claims is a video showing a ballistic test of the heavy-class ICBM. “During the test, the ICBM proved its specifications within pre-flight preparations and initial stage of the flight,” the MoD said of the testing. “The Strategic Missile Forces checked scheme and constructive, as well as technological solutions implemented in the missile complex equipped with the ICBM.”
According to Russian news source Sputnik, the launch was in fact the second test of the missile. The first took place in December 2017. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin only confirmed earlier in March 2018 that Sarmat’s active testing had begun, revealing the trials were underway during his annual speech in the country’s parliament.
Sarmat, otherwise known as the RS-28 or SS-X-32 Snowflake, is a liquid-filed thermonuclear armed ICBM, that Russia is believed to have been working on since 2009. It can carry a payload of around 10 tonnes, and was designed to make it harder for satellites to spot its launch. To do that, it has a markedly shorter boost phase, minimizing the infrared footprint that could be spotted by US satellites.
Initial testing late last year reportedly saw a “Satan 2” missile fly several dozen kilometers before coming back down. The ICBM is one of six strategic weapons that Russia detailed this year. Of most concern have been suggestions that Sarmat could fly over either of the planet’s poles, avoiding current US missile defense systems. However, it’s unclear when, exactly, it will be ready to go into operation and replace the much older SS-18 Satan missile.