Tests of Russia's troubled Bulava missile planned for new sub
MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will this year use the Yury Dolgoruky nuclear powered submarine for the first time to carry out test launches of the troubled Bulava missile, a Defense Ministry official said on Wednesday.
"Tests will be conducted in the summer - most likely in June, from the White Sea, when it is free of ice," he said.
So far all test launches have been conducted from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear-powered submarine.
The Yury Dolgoruky is the newest of Russia's Borey-class strategic nuclear submarines, which have been exclusively designed for the Bulava, and is currently undergoing sea trials.
The future development of the Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry officials, who have suggested that all efforts should be focused on the existing Sineva SLBM.
But that would require major changes to the Borey-class submarines and the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready to be put into service with the Navy.
The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes.
Construction costs totaled some $713 million, including $280 million for research and development.
Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are in different stages of completion. Russia is planning to build eight of these subs by 2015.
Fourth-generation Borey-class nuclear-powered submarines are expected to constitute the core of Russia's modern strategic nuclear submarine fleet.
The submarines' entry into service could be delayed however by the series of setbacks in the development of the troubled Bulava missile, which has officially suffered seven failures in 12 tests.
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.
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