8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs

In today’s volatile geopolitical landscape, the capabilities of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) are increasingly relevant. This article delves into 8 current & upcoming ICBMs with the potential to wield catastrophic power capable of devastating entire nations.

Whether it’s the Hwasong-15 from North Korea, the RS-28 Sarmat from Russia, or any other on this list, each missile represents a significant advancement in military technology, underscoring the delicate balance of global security.

Early ICBMs had limited precision, making them suitable for use only against the largest targets, such as cities. However, most modern designs support multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target.

The only countries having fully operational ICBMs are Russia, the United States, China, France, India, the United Kingdom, and North Korea. Some ICBMs are still under Development, and sources say they have a huge, devastating effect with a long operational range that can reach every corner of the planet.

Let’s look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs

1. Hwasong-15 

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
Hwasong-15

So, firstly, we have the Hwasong-15 (U.S. designation: KN-22), an intercontinental ballistic missile developed by North Korea. It had its maiden flight on 28 November 2017.   

The largest, most potent missile North Korea has tested to date can range from the continental United States. North Korea said that the missile went up to a height of about 4475 kilometers, flew 950 kilometers downrange, and was in the air for a total of 53 minutes.

The missile’s trajectory and estimated distance give it a range of over 13,000 kilometers, well within the limits at which it might strike Washington, DC, and the rest of the United States.

Experts have remarked that the re-entry vehicle’s nose is more rounded than in earlier designs, which improves its ability to carry a larger diameter warhead while also decreasing re-entry stress and increasing heating accuracy.

Analysts have speculated that it may transport numerous warheads or even decoys. A 9-wheeled transport erector vehicle is suitable for launching this missile.

2. JL-3

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
JL-3

Next, we have the JL-3, a Chinese third-generation intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). It’s an improved version of the JL-2 already in the Chinese arsenal. 

It will likely deploy on type 096, a predicted future class of Chinese ballistic missile submarine, and the missile is solid-fueled and has a reported range of over 12100 kilometers.

The JL-3 may be loaded with a wide variety of re-entry vehicle warheads, each of which can be directed to a specific target. On November 24, 2018, the first test flight took place in the Bohai Sea. It was likely a test of the cold launch ejection system of the launch tube.

The South China Morning Post cites an anonymous source as saying that China won’t complete installing the Jl-3 inside the type 096 submarine until 2025 at the earliest.

3. K6 

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
K6

Next, we have the K6, an intercontinental submarine launch ballistic missile being developed by India’s defense research and development organization. It is a three-stage missile in solid fuel and is planned to be armed with multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles with a range of around 6,000 kilometers and a three-ton payload. It will be longer than 12 meters and around 2 meters in diameter.

4. Barguzin BZhRK 

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
Barguzin BZhRK

the Barguzin BZhRK (БЖРК) Project, a rail-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) under development for the Russian Strategic Missile Troops, is as follows:

  • The project involves the development of a rail-mounted ICBM to replace the previous Molodets BZhRK SS-24 Scalpel missile train.
  • The Barguzin system will be armed with six RT-## ICBMs based on various missile technologies like Yars, Bulava, RT-23MU, Rubezh Avangard, RT20PUZh, R-39 Rif, and R-39M.
  • Each missile is expected to weigh around 45-50 tons and carry up to 4 nuclear warheads.
  • The system will be equipped with modern disguise techniques, electronic warfare systems, and other stealth-enhancing devices.
  • Operational deployment of the Barguzin system was initially planned for 2020

5. AGNI VI

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
AGNI VI

 

This ICBM is being developed for the strategic forces commands of the Indian armed forces. It is a 20 to 40-meter tall missile weighing about 55,000 to 70,000 kilograms and capable of carrying nuclear warheads of 3000 kilograms.

Agni 6 will be a four-stage intercontinental ballistic missile in the hardware development phase after its design phase is completed. It is likely to have more than one re-entry vehicle that can be targeted and moved independently. These warheads that can move around will give Agni 6 a longer range, but the exact number is still a mystery.

It is said to be the most recent and most advanced Agni missile. According to sources, the Agni 6 missile is likely to carry up to 10 MIRV warheads and will have a maximum strike range of 12,000 kilometers.

This missile will have the capability to be launched from a submarine and land-based launchers. The Indian government has yet to approve the project, although DRDO has completed all calculations and started the engineering work.

6. M51.3

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
M51.3

Next is the M51.3, a French submarine launch ballistic missile designed to maintain the capabilities of the ocean component facing the most severe missile defenses. The m51.3 program is developing a new third stage of the m51 missile, offering an operational plan for increased performance.

It is expected to enter service around 2025. on June 12, 2020, a successful test launch of an m51.3 missile was conducted from the triumphant class submarine of the southwest tip of Finistere. The m51.3 missile will have multiple warheads, and the volume and mass available for the payload are greatly superior to the m4. 

7. GBSD

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
GBSD

Next, there’s the ground-based strategic deterrent, an ICBM system under Development by the United States that will replace the United States Air Force’s current stock of 450 Minutemen III missiles beginning in 2027.

A request for a proposal for the Development and maintenance of next-generation nuclear ICBM was made by the U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center ICBM systems directorate GBSD division in July 2016.

The new missiles to be faced in over a decade from the late 2020s are estimated to have a 50-year life cycle and cost around 86 billion dollars. The Northrop Grumman nationwide team is developing innovative concepts, technologies, and solutions necessary to meet the Air Force. 

While delivering a safe, secure, reliable, and effective GBSD system. in march 2019, the w87 mod one thermonuclear warhead was selected for GBSD, replacing the w78 warhead currently used in Minuteman 3.

8. RS-28 Sarmat

Let's look at The 8 Current & Upcoming ICBMs
RS-28 Sarmat

lastly, we have the RS-28 Sarmat, a Russian liquid-fueled MIRV-equipped super heavy intercontinental ballistic missile under Development by the Makeyev Design Bureau since 2009.

The Sarmat is one of six new Russian strategic weapons presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 1, 2018. It is intended to replace Russia’s r36m ICBM.

It will be capable of carrying about 10 tons of payload for either up to 10 heavy or 15 light MIRV warheads. An unspecified number of Avangard hypersonic light vehicles or a combination of warheads and massive amounts of countermeasures against anti-ballistic missile systems.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said that this missile responds to the United States’ PGS. Because Sarmat’s boost phase is so brief, it is harder to intercept with satellites equipped with infrared sensors like the United States Space-Based Infrared System.

Conclusion

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) are powerful weapons capable of delivering devastating consequences. The current and upcoming ICBMs discussed in this article exemplify the continuous evolution of military technology and the ever-present threat of nuclear conflict.

As nations strive to secure their interests, developing and deploying such weapons underscore the importance of international diplomacy, arms control agreements, and the pursuit of peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

FAQs

Q: How do ICBMs work?

A: ICBMs are propelled by powerful rocket engines and carry nuclear warheads. Once launched, they follow a ballistic trajectory, re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds to reach their targets.

Q: How accurate are ICBMs?

A: Modern ICBMs can be highly accurate, with precision targeting capabilities. However, their accuracy depends on various factors, including the guidance system, payload, and atmospheric conditions.

Q: What are MIRVs?

A: MIRVs (Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles) are a type of warhead that can carry multiple nuclear or conventional payloads, each capable of striking different targets.

Q: How do countries defend against ICBMs?

A: Countries employ various defense systems, such as anti-ballistic missile systems and early warning systems, to detect and intercept incoming ICBMs. These systems aim to mitigate the threat posed by these weapons.

Q: What are the risks associated with ICBMs?

A: The primary risk is the potential for nuclear conflict, which could have catastrophic consequences for human life and the environment. Additionally, the proliferation of ICBMs raises concerns about arms races and regional tensions.

Q: Are there international agreements regulating ICBMs?

A: Yes, several arms control treaties, such as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), aim to limit the development, deployment, and use of ICBMs and other nuclear weapons.