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Friday, March 19, 2010

Russia plans four test launches of Bulava missile in June

The Russian Navy is planning to conduct at least four test launches of the Bulava ballistic missile at the end of June, a senior Navy official told RIA Novosti on Friday.

"Two Bulava launches will be carried out from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine, followed by two launches from the Yury Dolgoruky nuclear sub," the source said.

"The second test on the Yury Dolgoruky will be a salvo launch," he said.

The Yury Dolgoruky is the first of Russia's Borey class strategic nuclear submarines, which have been exclusively designed for the Bulava, and is currently undergoing sea trials.

The source said that if the tests are successful, both the submarine and the missile could be put into service with the Russian Navy by the end of 2010.

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) is a three-stage liquid and solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). It carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles).

The future development of Bulava has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry officials following a series of test failures. Only five of 12 Bulava test launches from the Dmitry Donskoy sub have been officially reported as being successful.

Some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures was considerably larger, with Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer contending that of the Bulava's 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful.

But the military has insisted there is no alternative to the Bulava and said the tests of the missile would continue until it is ready to enter service with the Russian Navy.

Source (RIA Novosti)