Russia is set to test its biggest ever nuclear missile which is powerful enough to destroy the UK, Texas or France with a single strike.
The so-called Satan 2 intercontinental ballistic missile could deliver about a dozen nuclear warheads of 40 megatons – 2,000 times as powerful as the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
President Vladimir Putin’s Defence Ministry plans to test two RS-28 Sarmat super nukes at the remote Plesetsk Cosmodrome before the end of the year, it was reported.
The 100-ton weapons which could enter service as early as 2019 will make the bombs dropped on Japan look like popguns, experts have said.
Russia claims the missiles can beat any defences as it seeks to replace its arsenal of SS-18 Satan weapons.
The Satan 2 missile was displayed during a Victory Day parade in May and test-firings have been delayed several times due to problems with the missile itself and silo.
A source told the Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper that two tests will take place this year, as long as the first one goes according to plan.
The source said: The main purpose is to check the performance of the rocket’s systems at the time of the exit from the silo, and the activation of Sarmat’s first stage and the subsequent [flight] for about five seconds.
Last May, frightening footage of the liquid-fuelled Satan 2 being paraded through the streets was posted online.
Moscow weapons experts have said the weapon of mass destruction will be able to evade radar defences and could travel far enough to strike London or the East and West Coast of the U.S.
The terrifying new missile is twice as light as Russia’s current ballistic missiles, the Voyevoda, with an estimated range of more than 6,000 miles.
The missiles have an estimated speed of more than Mach 20, or 4.3 miles per second.
Military expert Aleksey Leonkov told Kommersant that when Russia adopted the Voyevoda it carried out more than 30 tests, and not all were successful.
He expects a high number of Satan 2 tests to be carried out before the weapon is deemed ready for service.