MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia cannot assign production of Bulava ballistic missiles to another manufacturer because there is only one plant in the country that makes solid-fuel ballistic missiles, Russian experts have said.
Chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, said on Wednesday that production of the troubled Bulava missile had been moved to an alternative factory due to problems in the production cycle. He did not specify its name.
According to the Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, Makarov's announcement took the Russian military and defense industry experts by surprise because only one plant in Russia - the Votkinsky Zavod in the Urals - makes solid-fuel ballistic missiles for Russia's Armed Forces, including the Topol-M, the Iskander-M, and the Bulava-30.
"Apparently, the media misinterpreted what Gen. Makarov said because there is nowhere to transfer Bulava production to from the Votkinsky plant," former chief of staff of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, said in an interview with the NG.
"On the other hand, it is possible to change manufacturers of faulty components supplied to the plant. Here we have some options, but the choice is still limited," Yesin added.
The Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which is being developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT), has suffered six failures in 11 tests. The general director of the institute has resigned over the failures, seen as a setback in the development of Russia's nuclear deterrent.
A final report on the causes of the previous faulty test launches is expected to be ready soon, but no date has been set for the next Bulava trial.
Makarov expressed hope on Wednesday that Russian industry "will tackle the problems and cope with the [production] task."
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has an estimated range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage solid-propellant ballistic missile is designed for deployment on new Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarines.
Russia's top brass expects the Bulava, along with Topol-M land-based ballistic missiles, to become the core of Russia's nuclear triad.