Russia to test troubled Bulava nuclear missile again

Russia will continue to test its Bulava nuclear missile despite several failures, a senior military official said.

Russia to test troubled Bulava nuclear missile again

Russia will continue to test its troubled Bulava nuclear missile despite several failures as it would otherwise be forced to refit a whole new class of costly submarines, a senior military official said on Wednesday.

After a failed test last month, the submarine-launched Bulava(Mace), which is capable of carrying 10 warheads 8,000 km (5,000 miles), now has a history of six unsuccessful launches and five successful ones, according to official reports.

"We are still inclined to believe the Bulava will fly in the end," chief of staff Nikolai Makarov told journalists during a visit to Mongolia with President Dmitry Medvedev.

"I believe our industry will finally cope with its technology, and the missile will fly."

The low success rate has undermined statements by senior officials that the Bulava should be commissioned this year and embarrassed the Kremlin, which has touted the intercontinental missile as capable of breaching any air defence.

Despite the uncertainty, Russia has already built and begun to test a new "Borei" (Arctic Wind) class submarine, specifically designed to carry this missile.

Production problems

Two more giant, nuclear-powered submarines of the same class are now being built.

Asked if it would be better to deploy the reliable, Soviet-era designed Sineva missile on the new boats, Makarov said: "The Bulava is a totally different system...To refit a submarine for the Bulava means to redesign it completely."

"This would be a very expensive project," Makarov said.

The head of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology which designed the Bulava, Yuri Solomonov, resigned last month after continued problems with the Bulava.

Makarov said it was the missile's faulty production cycle, not its design, that was to blame to its unsuccessful tests.

He said production of the Bulava would be transferred to another plant in Russia.

Reuters
Last Mod: 26 Ağustos 2009, 15:25
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