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Russia to hold three test launches of its newest Sarmat ICBM this year — source

One of those missiles will probably be fired at its maximum range

MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. Russia will carry out three test launches of its advanced Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) this year, sources in Russia’s defense industry and close to the Russian defense ministry have told TASS.

"Three launches of the Sarmat ICBM will be carried out as part of flight development tests in 2021," one of them said.

"The first launch of the Sarmat ICBM within the framework of flight development tests will be carried out tentatively in the third quarter of 2021, a field at the Kura testing range on Kamchatka will be a target," another source said.

The sources told TASS that all the three launches would be performed from a silo at the Plesetsk space center in northwestern Russia. One of those missiles will probably be fired at its maximum range.

State trials of Sarmat are due to begin in 2022, with first regiment entering combat service at the end of the year, the sources said.

"The defense ministry is already purchasing serially produced missiles," one of them added.

Sarmat is to replace R-36M2 Voevoda missiles, which have been the most powerful in the world and operational since 1970s. Sarmat considerably exceeds the predecessor. Some of its characteristics were disclosed at Army-2019 forum. The new missile weighs 208.1 tons, the payload is close to 10 tons and the fuel is 178 tons. The range of Sarmat is 18 thousand kilometers.

Open sources said Sarmat has completely new means to counter missile defense. Its active flight stage, when the missile accelerates and is visible and vulnerable to missile defense, has been reduced. The shorter acceleration section is important for the breakthrough of missile defense, as the separation of reentry vehicles and discharge of dummy targets are possible only after the boost. Sarmat engines rapidly boost the missile to the safe zone and make it invulnerable for the missile defense until it reaches the main flight trajectory.

It can fly by unpredictable routes and bypass missile defense areas. It can fly over the North and South Pole and approach targets from directions that are not envisaged for interception. Sarmat can carry a line of reentry vehicles, including hypersonic Avangard gliders.