Plesetsk – Sarmat Yubileynaya test silo imagery update


  • Update to Janes articles from January and August 2021
  • Satellite imagery shows Plesetsk RS-28 Sarmat ICBM test silo compound upgrades

A year ago I published an article for Jane’s Intelligence Review magazine on upgrades to Russian Strategic Rocket Forces (Raketnye voyska strategicheskogo naznacheniya: RVSN) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) complexes located southwest of Uzhur in the Krasnoyarsk Krai Oblast.

The silos near Uzhur are operated by the 62nd Missile Division (MD) of the 33rd Guards Missile Army/302nd Missile Regiment (MR) and are armed with RS-20V/R-36M2 (SS-18 ‘Satan’) ICBMs. They are scheduled to be upgraded to RS-28 Sarmat ICBMs with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying in April 2021 that “the first regiment armed with Sarmat super-heavy ICBMs is scheduled to go on combat duty in late 2022”.

Work at the silo and command centre sites is continuing and seems to be progressing well, though whether they will be activated by the end of 2022 is another matter.

Whilst GE has recent imagery for the Uzhur silo sites, they haven’t been so good at updating imagery of the Plesetsk Sarmat test silo – known as Yubileynaya.

Up until recently, the GE imagery of Yubileynaya dated back to 2014. However, they have just updated this to imagery from January 2021 – but still over a year and a half old. Moreover, as it is January the site is covered in snow, which makes it difficult to work out the upgrades that have taken place there.

The last test of Sarmat took place in April 2022, but new navigation warnings put out by Russia points to another test taking place this week.

I’ve been sitting on Planet imagery from Yubileynaya dated 10 May 2022 for just over two months now. This blog was supposed to have been written back then, but other developments took over and it has been delayed until now.

I have seen further imagery from 28 September 2022, but this can’t be shared here. This imagery does show activity around the silo that could be associated with an upcoming test. It must be noted that the silo was shut, and there is no missile present – neither is a silo loader.

Whilst later imagery is available for me to share, the imagery here shows the silo being worked on. The hatch is open, with the inner hatch visible. The recent imagery possibly won’t show much more than this as it is over a month old. I’m happy to go with it, but if further imagery of around now does become available, I’ll look into getting it.

So what has changed? Pretty much all of it.

The site has been cleared of the trees within the fence line – with a possible new fence-line put in place. The access gates are new, as is a defensive position/gate house.

New roads have been laid, new anti-static/lightning arrestor masts have been installed. And a new operations/control building is present. The test pad itself has been made larger, and a missile loading cage is alongside the hatch – used to hold a missile that is removed from the transporter vehicle, before being put onto the silo loader.

The GE image from below is dated 7 June 2014.

The 10 May 2022 imagery for comparison.

Image – ©Planet Labs PBC 2022/SkyWatch/Tony Roper. No reuse without permission
Image – ©Planet Labs PBC 2022/SkyWatch/Tony Roper. No reuse without permission

I am 100% not sorry for the watermarks after the thieving Sun newspaper stole other imagery without permission. I have also removed the capability to open the full image, meaning you can’t enjoy the imagery at its fullest quality. Again, you came blame the thieving scumbags at The Sun for this.

Screenshots taken from a Russian forces video of a previous Sarmat test allows you to see the various features of the test site.

Now we just wait and see it new imagery is made available prior to the test; and that a test actually takes place.

I always keep an eye on Plesetsk anyway; and expect some more imagery from other areas of the complex in future blogs.

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