RUSSIA is preparing to test a nuclear missile so powerful it could wipe out an area the size of France.
The devastatingly-powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which replaces an earlier version codenamed ‘Satan’ by Nato, is thought to be the largest atomic weapon-carrying rocket ever produced – capable of housing as many as a dozen warheads inside its shell.
Russian media said the rocket could “erase from the face of the earth land plots the size of Texas”, in comments that could be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate the US.
Worryingly, the missile has been designed with stealth technology which enables it to be fired at a target without being picked up by radar systems.
It is also said to travel at speeds that render most missile defence systems useless.
Seven years in the making, RS-28 Sarmat, as it is officially known, will be ready for testing in the summer and will enter service in 2018.
Russian broadcaster Zvezda said the new weaponry would “determine in which direction nuclear deterrence in the world will develop”.
Defence experts say Sarmat has an operational range of around 10,000km – meaning European capitals as well as the east and west coasts of the US would be within range.
London is 2,500km from Moscow while Washington is 7,850km away.
The Satan missile is thought to weigh at least 100 tonnes, including a payload weighing up to 10 tonnes.
RS-28 Sarmat, as it is officially known, will be ready for testing in the summer [STOCK]