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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian defense minister insists on Bulava missile development

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, December 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian military will not abandon plans to develop the troubled Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the defense minister has said.

The latest launch of the missile, which Russia hopes will be a key element of its nuclear forces, from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine in the White Sea ended in failure on December 9. Only five of 12 Bulava launches have been officially reported as being successful.

"We will certainly not give up the Bulava. I think that despite all the failures, the missile will fly," Anatoly Serdyukov said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta published on Thursday.

The minister cited a number of reasons for the failures of Bulava tests, including attempts to replace specific materials with cheaper substitutes and obsolete manufacturing equipment.

"Overall, there are a number of problems and, unfortunately, they cannot be solved as quickly as we would want," Serdyukov said.

The further development of the Bulava has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry experts, who have suggested that all efforts should be focused on the existing Sineva SLBM.

But the military has insisted there is no alternative to the Bulava and said the next test launch of the missile could be carried out as early as in January.

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage solid-propellant ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey class nuclear-powered submarines.

The Bulava, along with Topol-M land-based ballistic missiles, is expected to become the core of Russia's nuclear triad.

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