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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Russia Navy to continue work with Bulava missile - commander

Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky believes it is impossible to refuse from the submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile Bulava, despite its recent unsuccessful tests, and impossible to replace it with another missile.
“We shall continue (to work with Bulava). Just think, how can it be replaced with any other,” the commander told Itar-Tass.

Answering a question if it is real to develop another missile instead of Bulava or to use instead of it the recently adopted for service in the RF Navy Sineva (RSM-54) strategic missile installed on the 667BDRM project nuclear-powered submarines of the Dolphin class (Delta 5 by NATO classification), Admiral Vysotsky said: “It’s impossible.”

The Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology is chiefly responsible for the Bulava missile’s design. Bulava carries the NATO reporting name SS-NX-30 and has been assigned the GRAU index 3M30. In international treaties, the common designation RSM-56 is used.

The Bulava design is based on the Topol M, but is both lighter and more sophisticated. The two missiles are expected to have comparable ranges, and similar CEP and warhead configurations. The Russian military developed Bulava to possess advanced defence capabilities making it resistant to missile-defence systems. Among its claimed abilities are evasive manoeuvring, mid-course countermeasures and decoys and a warhead fully shielded against both physical and Electromagnetic pulse damage. The Bulava is designed to be capable of surviving a nuclear blast at a minimum distance of 500 metres. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has claimed that Bulava could penetrate any potential anti-missile defence system.

The Bulava is planned to carry up to 6 MIRV warheads with a yield of 150 kT each. A full-capacity payload requires the forfeiture of all final stage countermeasures and of some shielding.

The decision on developing the Bulava missile was adopted in 1998 after three unsuccessful tests of the Bark missile of the Miass Construction Bureau named after Makeyev. The missile completed the first stage launch-tests at the end of 2004. It was originally scheduled for completion in late 2006, but is now not expected to enter service until 2009. The first boats to carry the Bulava will be the forthcoming Borei class submarines, which will be outfitted with sixteen missiles each. The first three boats of this class will be deployed in 2010 (a total of 5 were planned for 2015.) A land-based variant is also expected.

On 19 September 2008, a senior Navy official announced that Russia will adopt the new Bulava-M submarine-based ballistic missile for service with the Navy in 2009. However, as of July 2009 about half of the tests of the submarine-based Bulava-M have been failures.

The first test launches conducted on 27 September 2005, and 21 December 2005, from the Dmitry Donskoi, a Typhoon class ballistic missile submarine, were successful. The next three flight tests, on 7 September 2006, 25 October 2006, and 24 December 2006, ended in failures of the missile, the causes of which have not yet been revealed.

One successful test launch was conducted on 28 June 2007, although some reports claim problems with the missile’s warheads. On August 5, 2007 Russia made a decision to start serial production of the Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile. However, this did not happen, and after a longer period of reviewing the programme the decision was made to continue the flight testing.
On 25 July 2008, the Dmitry Donskoi went to sea to conduct tests of the new launching system.

Three more tests were conducted during 2008. The first was conducted on 18 September 2008 at 18:45 Moscow time. Some reports did however say that the test was not quite successful and that the bus failed to separate the warheads, or that the missile carried no warheads at all. The second was conducted on 28 November 2008 from a submerged Typhoon class submarine in the White Sea. First reports suggested that is was a successful test. The third and last test of 2008 was conducted at 03:00 GMT on 23 December 2008, but failed after the missile went off-course and self-destructed. On December 23, 2008 a senior Russian Navy official said that at least five more Bulava tests will be conducted during 2009.

In February 2009 it was announced that the flight tests would be resumed in March 2009. This was later delayed to June 2009. On July 15 a new test was conducted, ending in another failure when the missile’s first stage malfunctioned shortly after launch.

In the last days of October 2009 another launch reportedly failed when the missile did not leave the launch tube, according to an anonymous source. However, according to other sources, “the launch was tentatively scheduled for November 24 but has been postponed to the end of 2009.”

There was another test on December 9, 2009, which failed. The failure caused the 2009 Norwegian spiral anomaly, causing puzzlement and excitement there before the source was later identified. The Russian Defence Ministry reported that the first two stages of the rocket worked properly, but a technical failure in the third stage resulted in the launch failure.(@Itar-Tass)
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