Russia plans ‘OVER 200’ missile exercises in 2021 as ‘Satan II’ weapon nears readiness

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Russia’s Defence Ministry announced the plans for this year’s missile forces drills earlier this month. It comes after “over 200” such tests were also conducted last year under current leader Vladimir Putin.

The ministry said, according to Russia’s TASS agency: “In 2021, the Strategic Missile Forces will have than 200 exercises of various levels, including tactical and special tactical exercises with missile regiments and missile divisions, as well as a number of command-and-staff exercises with missile formations.

“The intensity of activities during the exercises will change significantly with a general tendency to maintain their duration.”

Russia is currently preparing its RS-28 Sarmat Intercontinental Ballistic Missile – which national outlets say can “penetrate any existing missile defence” – for flight trials.

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The country’s Deputy Defence Minister Alexei Krivoruchko has said such trials are coming “in the near future”.

Testing sites are due to be constructed in the Krasnoyarsk territory of Siberia.

According to the US Center for Strategic and International Studies’ ‘Missile Threat’ project, the weapon is also known as the ‘Satan II’. It has an estimated range of between 10,000 and 18,000km.

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The liquid-fuelled, 200-plus metric ton rocket is said to be over 35 metres in height.

It can carry up to 10 large warheads, or as many as 16 smaller ones, Russian media claim.

Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces commander said: “This missile system is by right at the forefront of the effort to create new types of weaponry, ushering in the era of strategic hypersonic weapons.”

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The missile has been in development for over ten years, with the first prototype completed in 2015.

It had originally been scheduled to enter service in 2018, though technical delays have pushed this back to 2022.

By some definitions, ‘hypersonic’ refers to a speed at least five times faster than the speed of sound.

Russia say the Sarmat is capable of “flying at over 20 times the speed of sound in the dense layers of the atmosphere”.

Typically, intercontinental ballistic missiles work by being launched to high altitudes – sometimes outer space – before plummeting back to Earth at very high speeds.

In other Russian military news, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, said yesterday that the country wants Britain and France to agree to a nuclear disarmament process.

During an online seminar on arms control, Mr Antonov said, according to TASS: “We give priority to including France and the UK in the dialogue. These countries possess nuclear arsenals comparable to the Chinese one. They also closely coordinate their nuclear policies with Washington within NATO.”

In 2010 the UK Government said it would reduce its overall nuclear weapons stockpile to 180 by the mid-2020s.

As of July 2019 its stockpile included 200 weapons for its sea-only deterrent, the Arms Control Association said.

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