RS-28 Sarmat Image Released: Low Key Hypersonic Glider Warhead Test To Boot?

On Sunday the Makeyev Design Bureau released an image of what the RS-28 Sarmat ICBM will look like. The RS-28 Sarmat is the heavy ICBM replacement for the SS18 and SS19.

The image appears above.

On Tuesday Russia tested an SS19 ICBM, and reports indicate that it may have tested the Project 4202 hypersonic glider warhead, seen as part of Russia’s asymmetric response to ballistic missile defence. The Sarmat, reportedly, will have throw weight sufficient for 3 Project 4202 warheads. However, Pavel Podvig, suggests that there is a possibility that the latest SS-19 test was a service life extension test rather than a Project 4202 test. That said, Podvig does make the point that the previous life extension test, in December 2011, was also a part of the Project 4202 programme.

If it was a Project 4202 test, it was rather low key given the nuclear sabre rattling of recent times.

The United States is also interested in hypersonic manoeuvrable warheads, but not for reasons of missile defence. In the Russian case, if Ballistic Missile Defense has severe limitations due to physical and computational reasons one may well ask whether hypersonic glider warheads constitute mission overkill.