Vladimir Putin said Russia made the world aware as it tested its next-generation international continental ballistic missile this month.
Sarmat – called ‘Satan II’ by NATO – is an advanced weapons delivery system capable of hitting anywhere in Europe or the United States with a devastating nuclear payload.
It can reportedly travel more than 11,000 miles, deliver 10 tons of explosives and reach speeds of 20 Mach.
To put it in context, the speed of sound is Mach 1, and Washington DC is 4,800 miles from Moscow.
It marks a significant upgrade of Russia’s nuclear weapons stockpile during the Cold War, and the West has been keeping a close eye on developments.
But Sarmat is by no means the only weapon being worked on by the Kremlin’s network of military scientists and industrialists.
In March 2018, Mr. Putin delivered one of the most aggressive speeches of his time in office until then.
He revealed that his defense ministry was working on several top-secret weapons projects that he said would give the Kremlin the lead over NATO.
It’s hard to separate fact from fiction about the weapons Russia has developed since then, but some details have been leaked – perhaps deliberately – while independent experts have been able to gather some more.
In addition to Sarmat, we know of five other intimidating plans Mr Putin is trying to bring to life to bring his military on a par with NATO.
These are the weapons he says will ensure that Russia is a superpower in the 21st century, whether the West likes it or not.
Glide missiles are a new class of weapons developed by the world’s military superpowers.
Like ballistic missiles, they leave the Earth’s orbit before re-entering, but gliders are designed to be more manoeuvrable as they approach their targets, making them harder to intercept.
They fly at lower altitudes, giving them the same speed as an ICBM, but the ability to fly below the line of sight of defense systems like a cruise missile.
Vladimir Putin has claimed that the Avangarden’s course can be adjusted in the air and that it will travel above between the 20th and 27th Mach, which would make it one of the fastest weapons ever developed.
Units responsible for maintaining the weapon are already in combat service.
Poseidon autonomous submarine
The West has known about the development of an unmanned submarine drone since 2015, a new type of weapon system capable of carrying an atomic bomb.
It is supposedly designed to reach a depth of 1,000 meters and – if reports that are nuclear-powered are correct – have a theoretically limitless range.
According to a US analysis, it would be carried aboard a conventional submarine and armed with two-megaton warheads that could detonate below the surface.
It is believed to have been thought of as a reaction weapon if Russia was first hit with a nuclear payload.
In addition to being able to hit naval targets with conventional warheads, it could be used to attack coastal towns by triggering what reports have described as a ‘radioactive tsunami’ when it detonates close to shore.
Vladimir Putin has described them as ‘quiet, very maneuverable and [they] has hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit ‘.
Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile
Russia has tried to develop a cruise missile with a theoretically unlimited range because it would be powered by a nuclear reactor.
Cruiser missiles are designed to fly at low altitudes to avoid detection and hit very precise targets.
Buresevestnik has had a problematic development: a test flight with the nuclear engine ended in disaster when it exploded and killed at least five nuclear scientists who were sent to recover it from the sea where it had crashed.
A US report said it would be a ‘unique’ weapon if the technical difficulties could be overcome, but the weapon appears to be still under development.
At a ceremony in honor of the specialists killed during the August 2019 explosion, Mr Putin said Russia “will surely perfect this weapon no matter what”.
Kinzhal air-launching ballistic missile
The Kremlin has developed a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that can be fired from an airplane.
According to the United States, the weapon is a modified version of the Iskander missile system, a ground-based launcher that has been in use for more than a decade, designed to be mounted on a supersonic fighter jet.
Its shorter range means it is potentially designed to attack naval targets, but unlike other weapons on the list, it may have already been used in Ukraine.
On March 19, Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed to have hit a weapons depot in western Ukraine using the missile, although it can not be verified what type of weapon was actually deployed.
If confirmed, it would be the first time a hypersonic missile – a rocket capable of traveling at five times the speed of sound – has been used in warfare.
Khinzal may be equipped with a nuclear warhead, but carried a conventional bomb as Russia says it was used in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin has argued that it can be moved in the air, and the pace at which it launches and travels is designed to help it avoid missile defense systems.
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Tsirkon Hypersonic cruise missile
Tsirkon is an anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile that is capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and can be fired from surface vessels or submarines.
Vladimir Putin claimed that it could hit a target 1,000 km away and that the Ministry of Defense is developing a land-based version.
After being fired by a booster engine, it achieves high speeds by sucking the air around it via a ‘scramjet’ and flying so fast through the atmosphere that the air in front turns into plasma.
This is important because plasma absorbs radio waves, making it difficult for missile detection systems to detect it.
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