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    NORTHERN FLEET EXERCISES ENVISAGED IMITATION MISSILE LAUNCHES ONLY

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    SEVEROMORSK, FEBRUARY 17 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Kuroyedov, Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief, said that Northern Fleet exercises provided for only shipboard imitation missile launches from the Novomoskovsk nuclear submarine cruiser.

    "Imitation launch is just an electronic firing of a missile without its practical silo discharge. In other words, a missile goes through all the arrangements for take-off and, finally, a imitation launch without being let out from its silo," he added.

    Asked to comment on media allegations about some accidents, Vladimir Kuroyedov said, "I usually do not comment on rumors, though my statement now will be 'the work has been accomplished without any accidents'." "Ballistic firing was reduced to imitation launch, which was effected by the submarine twice - in two different regions. This is what we could observe," said Kuroyedov.

    President Vladimir Putin observed the exercises.

    The press service of the Northern Fleet reports about the exercises held in normal mode.

    According to information available to RIA Novosti, the submarine K-407 "Novomoskovsk" has a brilliant "missile" past. In 1991, it was the world's only submarine that launched 16 ballistic missiles at an interval of several seconds and all of them hit their targets successfully.

    In 1996, the Novomoskovsk, together with the K-447 submarine, fired a batch of ballistic missiles.

    It was for the first time in history that in 1998 the Novomoskovsk made the shipboard launch of two artificial earth satellites.

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