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    Test launch of Russian Bulava ICBM unsuccessful-defense official

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    The test launch of a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of breaching anti-missile defense systems, from a submarine was unsuccessful, a source at the Belomorsk naval base said on Tuesday.

    SEVERODVINSK, December 23 (RIA Novosti) - The test launch of a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of breaching anti-missile defense systems, from a submarine was unsuccessful, a source at the Belomorsk naval base said on Tuesday.

    The submerged launch took place from the Dmitry Donskoi strategic nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea, off Russia's northwest coast, targeting the Kura firing ground in Kamchatka, the Far East.

    "The launch was a failure," the official said. "The crew performed well. The missile left the tube, but went off course due to a malfunction after the first stage separation."

    A naval commission will investigate the cause of the unsuccessful launch, Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, a Russian Navy spokesman, said.

    The latest test launch was Bulava's tenth and the fifth failure.

    The previous test of the Bulava missile took place on November 28. It was launched from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea, effectively engaging its designated target on the Kamchatka Peninsula about 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) east of Moscow.

    Russia earlier planned to adopt the new Bulava for service with the Navy in 2009. But a senior Russian Navy official said earlier this month several more test launches would be conducted next year before a final decision to adopt it for service was made.

    The Bulava (SS-NX-30), carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads and having a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles), is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines.

    Former president Vladimir Putin earlier said the missile would be a key component of Russia's nuclear forces.

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