Russia Unveils Update of Advanced Nuclear Weapon

October 26, 2016 Updated: October 26, 2016

Russia has unveiled a new nuclear missile that “is capable of wiping out parts of the earth the size of Texas or France.”

Reports say that the RS-28 missile, dubbed the “Satan 2,” was unveiled this week, with the first image of the weapon being released to the public by designers at the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau. It’s also known as “Sarmat” in Russian.

The report comes as Moscow has been flexing its military muscle amid tensions with the United States over the war in Syria and lingering fallout from the invasion of Crimea in Ukraine. NATO, meanwhile, has been shoring up its defenses in countries near Russia’s border amid concerns about its military direction.

“The prospective strategic missile system is being developed in order to assuredly and effectively fulfill objectives of nuclear deterrent by Russia’s strategic forces,” according to a statement from V. Degtar and Y. Kaverin, listed as the bomb’s chief designer and leading designer, respectively, reported RT, a Russian government-funded news site.

Earlier this year, the Kremlin-aligned Sputnik News website said the missile could “wipe out” portions of the earth the “size of Texas or France.”

The RS-28 will replace the R-36, which was called the “SS-18 Satan” by NATO when it was introduced in the 1970s.

Robert Kelley, a former nuclear weapons expert at the U.S. Department of Energy, told NBC News that the new missile most likely had an upgrade in the device’s electronics, rather than an increase in its explosive payload or range.

“The range of the missiles will be about the same, the explosive destructive power will be about the same [but] the reliability, flexibility and confidence [in the warheads’ ability to hit their targets] will go way up,” said Kelley.

He noted: “Your iPhone can do thousands of more things today than in the 1970s when these systems were first deployed. Many of the clunky electronic circuits of that era no longer exist and no one knows how to make them anymore.”

The RS-28 weighs about 100 tons, and it features a large, 10-ton nuclear payload capacity. The missile is expected to enter service in 2018.