Vladimir Putin today answered his Western critics by demonstrating a fearsome test firing of a Russia’s new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.
Video footage shows the ‘invincible’ hypersonic weapon emerging from an underground silo at Plesetsk spaceport in northern Russia.
The rocket is seen hovering for less than a second, before speeding away in a cloud of white smoke.
US officials have sounded a growing alarm about the potential threat from hypersonic weapons – those that can travel at five times the speed of sound or more.
The new launch is shown on a 23-second video from the Russian defence ministry.
The ICMB was fired for the second time since tests began last December, say Moscow officials.
The Sarmat has a speed of Mach 20, and a payload of about ten tonnes, meaning it can carry up to 24 of Russia’s new Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles.
Up, up, and away: A video released by the Russian defence ministry shows a test of the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile
Big bomb: The Sarmat has a speed of Mach 20, and a payload of about ten tonnes
The Avangard is capable of an altered trajectory, able to make high-speed evasive maneuvers, and according to Putin himself strikes ‘like a meteorite, like a fireball’.
‘This new test at the Plesetsk spaceport confirmed its characteristics during the pre-launch and initial flight phases,’ the ministry said in a statement published in its Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper.
Putin said during his annual state of the nation parliamentary address this month that Russia had begun actively testing the Sarmat – known to NATO as the SS-X-32 SNOWFLAKE.
Fire and brimstone: Putin announced earlier this year that Russia had begun actively testing the new Sarmat missile
Trajectory: A computer simulation shows the Avangard hypersonic vehicle maneuvering to bypass missile defenses en route to target
It is expected to go operational in 2021 with the the Uzhur-based strategic missile force division.
In order to intercept a Sarmat, at least 500 American ABM missiles would be needed, according to Viktor Bondarev, chairman of Russian senate’s Defence and Security Committee and until recently commander of the country’s aerospace forces.
‘That is the conclusion of Western experts,’ he claimed.
After Putin boasted about the Sarmat, Western experts had expressed skepticism on how close Moscow was to operational use.