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Russia to put into service Bulava missiles

RIA Novosti photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Deputy defence minister Gen. Vladimir Popovkin announced here on Thursday that his country was planning to complete tests and put into service submarine-based Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) this year.

“We are planning to complete the firing tests and put the Bulava missile system on combat duty aboard the Yury Dolgoruky submarine this year,” Gen. Popovkin said.

The deputy defence minister said that the number of Bulava tests in 2009 could exceed five, and the first test would be conducted in June.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti said that the Bulava (SS-NX-30) ICBM carries up to 10 nuclear warheads and has a range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles). It is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines, it said.

It may be recalled that the latest failed test launch on December 23 from the Dmitry Donskoi strategic nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea, off Russia's northwest coast, was Bulava's fifth failure in ten trials.

The Russian military put the blame on the failed tests on production flaws and insisted that the tests would continue until the missile was ready for production.

RIA Novosti reported that sea trials of Yury Dolgoruky, Russia's first Borey-class strategic nuclear submarine are due to start in spring when navigation begins in the White Sea. The submarine was built at the Sevmash plant in northern Russia and was taken out of dry dock in April 2007, it said.

Giving description, the agency said that the vessel was 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.

Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build a total of eight submarines of this class by 2015, the agency reported.

The deputy defence minister said a quarter of funds from Russia's state defence orders would be allocated in 2009 to support the strategic nuclear forces, including their naval component. Media reports said that Russia's state defence orders for 2009 are worth about 1 trillion rubles ($28 billion), with money allocated to the Defence Ministry, as well as to more than 10 other ministries and agencies.

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