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Russian Bulava missile designer quits after failed tests

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The head of the research institute that designed the Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile resigned after a series of unsuccessful test launches, a defense industry official said on Wednesday.

MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the research institute that designed the Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile resigned after a series of unsuccessful test launches, a defense industry official said on Wednesday.

"Yury Solomonov tendered his resignation right after the latest unsuccessful launch on July 15," the official said.

The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos confirmed Solomonov's resignation on Wednesday and said a new head of the MITT would be appointed in September.

Solomonov, who occupied the posts of general director and general designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT), is the most senior official to date to take responsibility for a serious setback in the development of Russia's nuclear deterrent.

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) submarine-launched ballistic missile (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 new Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarines.

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

Six of the 11 Bulava test launches have been unsuccessful, including the latest test on July 15, when a Bulava SLBM self-destructed after blasting off from a nuclear submarine in the White Sea. The launches were suspended after the previous test, which ended in failure on December 23, 2008, and the missile components underwent lab tests.

Since the latest failure, the Russian Navy has reiterated that the tests will continue and Bulava missile will inevitably be deployed on Borey class submarines.

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