Russia’s Defense Ministry has signed a contract for the manufacture of Bulava submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles through 2020, First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov said on Tuesday.
“The tests of the Bulava missile system were successfully completed in December 2011 and a draft [presidential] decree is pending on its adoption for service with the Navy,” he said.
He did not say exactly when the Bulava will enter service or whether Russia’s newest nuclear-powered submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, will enter service at the same time.
Russia successfully test launched two Bulava missiles on December 23.
They were the 18th and 19th test launches of the troubled Bulava. Only 11 launches have been officially declared successful.
But some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures is considerably larger. Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer said that of the Bulava's first 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful.
Despite several previous failures, officially blamed on manufacturing faults, the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM, developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (since 1998), 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 United Shipbuilding Corporation said on Friday the Yury Dolgoruky submarine will be put into operation in the second quarter of the year.
The Borey-class Project 955 sub’s construction began in 1996 at the Sevmash shipyard and was completed in 2008. It has a crew of 130 and will be armed with 16 Bulava SLBMs and six SS-N-15 cruise missiles.