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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian govt. to decide on Bulava missile's fate

RIA Novosti

16:11 29/10/2010 MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti) - The decision to put Russia's Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile into service will be made by the country's leadership and only after the test program is complete, a government source said on Friday.

"After the three test launches planned for 2010, another series of tests will follow in the first half of 2011. A decision on the fate of the missile will only be made after that," the source said.

"The final decision on putting the missile into service will be made by the country's leadership, based on a report by the defense minister," the source added.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who oversees the country's defense industry, said another six successful test launches were needed for the missile to be put into operation, including one launch from a new submarine.

A Bulava missile was successfully test fired earlier on Friday from a submarine in the White Sea, reportedly hitting a target on the Kura test range in Russia's Far East Kamchatka region some 6,000 kilometers to the east.

It is the second successful firing in a month, coming after a series of embarrassing failures. Only 5 of the previous 12 launches were officially declared successful, although some military experts say that many of those were also flawed.

Previous failures were officially blamed on manufacturing faults.

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 missile will enter service when it is 100 percent reliable, Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said on Tuesday.

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