A new Russian intercontinental ballistic missile is capable of carrying several hypersonic weapons, a senior Russian military officer said on Sunday.
Colonel General Sergei Karakayev, the commander of the Russian military’s Strategic Missile Forces, said in televised remarks that the new Sarmat ICBM is designed to carry several Avangard hypersonic, glide vehicles.
Russia’s defence ministry said the Sarmat was test-fired for the first time on Wednesday from the Plesetsk launch facility in northern Russia and its practice warheads have successfully reached mock targets on the Kura firing range on the far eastern Kamchatka peninsula.
The test launch came amid soaring tensions between Moscow and the West over the Russian military action in Ukraine and underlines the Kremlin’s emphasis on the country’s nuclear forces.
Russian president, Vladimir Putin, hailed the Sarmat launch as a major achievement, claiming that the new missile has no foreign equivalent and is capable of penetrating any prospective missile defence.
“This really unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure Russia’s security from external threats and make those, who in the heat of frantic aggressive rhetoric try to threaten our country, think twice,” Putin said on Wednesday.
The Sarmat is a heavy missile that has been under development for several years to replace the Soviet-made Voyevoda, which was code-named Satan by the West and forms the core of Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
The military has said that the Avangard is capable of flying 27 times faster than the speed of sound and making sharp manoeuvres on its way to target to dodge the enemy’s missile shield.
In anticipation of the deployment of the Sarmat, the hypersonic vehicle has been fitted to the existing Soviet-built ICBMs, and the first unit armed with the Avangard entered duty in December 2019.
The director and the designer-in-chief of the Makeyev missile-maker that developed the Sarmat, Vladimir Degtyar, said in televised remarks that its range allows it to fly along any trajectory across north or south poles to hit any target around the world.