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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Bulava missile test failures caused by assembly problems

RIA Novosti

12:01 29/10/2010 MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti) - The second successful test launch in a row of a Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile has proved that poor assembly technology is likely to be the reason for the previous failed tests, a source from the state commission probing earlier failures said.

A Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile hit its target on the Kura test range in Russia's Far East Kamchatka region, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.

This was the 14th test launch of the Bulava missile. Seven of the previous test launches failed for various technical reasons.

Three examples of the troubled Bulava missile were built in order to establish the reasons for the failures of previous Bulava test launches.

"Therefore, we can draw the preliminary conclusion that the test launches failed because of the [missile's] assembly technology," the source said, adding that final conclusion will be made after one more test launch which is set for the year end.

"Immediately after the Dmitry Donskoy submarine [which conducted the last test launch] returns to its base, the commission will examine the data from the 14th launch and will schedule the date of the next, 15th, launch," the source said.

"This will be the last test launch in 2010."

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

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 ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey-class nuclear submarines.

The ballistic missile will enter service when it is 100% reliable, Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said on October 26.

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