Russia has released the first image of its new nuclear missile, a weapon so powerful that it could wipe out nearly all of the United Kingdom or France.
The RS-28 Sarmat thermonuclear-armed ballistic missile was commissioned in 2011 and is expected to come into service in 2018.
The first images of the massive missile were declassified on Sunday and have now been published for the first time.
It has been dubbed “Satan 2”, as it will replace the RS-36M, the 1970s-era weapon referred to by Nato as the Satan missile.
Sputnik, the Russian government-controlled news agency, reported in May that the missile could destroy an area “the size of Texas or France”.
Russian media report that the missile will weigh up to 10 tons with the capacity to carry up to 10 tons of nuclear cargo.
With that type of payload, it could deliver a blast some 2,000 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Russia reportedly tested a hypersonic warhead in April that is apparently intended for use on the Satan 2 missiles. The warhead is designed to be impossible to intercept because it does not move on a set trajectory.
The Satan 2 will also be much faster than its predecessor.
A statement from V Degtar and Y Kaverin, listed as the missile’s chief designer and leading designer respectively, said the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau was “instructed to start design and development work” by the Kremlin before a contract was signed in 2011 for the missile’s development.
“The prospective strategic missile system is being developed in order to assuredly and effectively fulfill objectives of nuclear deterrent by Russia’s strategic forces,” the statement reads, according to RT, the Russian government-funded news site.