The Russian Strategic Missile Force (SMF) will field a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2020, its commander lieutenant general Sergei Karakaev has revealed.
Karakaev was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the SMF is counting on being equipped with a new missile system with specifications not inferior to its predecessor in a 2018 to 2020 timeframe.
The new silo-based Sarmat ICBM will replace the Cold War era R-36M2 missile, Karakaev said.
Featuring advanced countermeasures for penetration of enemy missile defences, including a complex command and control (C2) system and a high degree of manoeuvrability, the Sarmat missile represents one of a number that will totally replace Soviet-era missiles by 2021.
''New hardware is arriving on time, and by 2018 more than 80% of Russia's strategic missile force will be comprised of the latest weapons,'' Karakaev added.
The new missiles form part of a $700bn procurement plan approved by the Russian Government to modernise the armed forces by 2020, according to the news agency.
The Russian nuclear forces are expected to be limited to 1,550 warheads and 700 strategic nuclear delivery systems, including long-range missiles and bombers, as part of the new strategic arms reduction treaty (START) agreement, signed with the US in 2011.
Calling the number 'necessary and sufficient' for maintenance of strategic nuclear parity with US and other nuclear states, Karakaev said the reduction will be compensated by upgrade of the missiles and delivery systems of the entire strategic triad, which in turn will provide new technological capabilities.
Also known within Nato as the SS-18 Satan, the R-36 missiles were manufactured in the 1970s, and are nearing the end of operational life, The Guardian reported.