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    Nuclear warheads ready for Bulava missile as test program picks up steam

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    Nuclear warheads have been completed for Russia's new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, its Yury Solomonov said on Tuesday in an interview with Russia's Natsionalnaya Oborona journal to be published later in December.

    Nuclear warheads have been completed for Russia's new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile, its designer Yury Solomonov said on Tuesday in an interview with Russia's Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defense) journal to be published later in December.

    "The nuclear payload will have been completed by the time the missiles are installed in the carrier [submarine]," Solomonov said.

    Four Bulava test launches will be carried out in the second half of December from the Borei-class nuclear-powered missile submarine Yury Dolgoruky, he said.

    In the last test in late October, a Bulava missile was successfully test-fired from the Dmitry Donskoi nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea, hitting a target on a test range in Russia's Far East Kamchatka region some 6,000 kilometers to the east.

    It was the second successful firing in a month, coming after several failures.

    A government source had previously said that the second stage of Bulava tests will start at the end of May 2011, if the launches in 2010 are a success.

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

    Despite previous failures, officially blamed on manufacturing faults, the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready for service with the Navy.

    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 Russian navy plans to deploy Bulava on modified Project 941 and the new Project 955 Borei class submarines.

    MOSCOW, December 7 (RIA Novosti)

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