Despite five failures in 10 trials, Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to complete a series of Bulava tests and put the ICBM into service by the end of 2009.
"Considering that we must ensure reliable performance characteristics of the [Bulava] missile, we have decided to raise the number of additional test launches to five, if everything goes well," Vladimir Popovkin said.
Popovkin, who is visiting the Russian exposition at the IDEF-2009 arms show in Turkey, said that a faulty detail caused a test launch failure in December last year, and that the on-board systems would undergo additional ground testing in June-July prior to the next test launch.
Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, deputy chief of the Navy General Staff, said in March that the Navy planned three Bulava test launches from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine this year. "If the tests are successful, they will continue on board the new Yury Dolgoruky nuclear-powered submarine," he said.
The Bulava-M (SS-NX-30) ICBM carries up to 10 nuclear warheads and has a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines.
Meanwhile, sea trials of Yury Dolgoruky, Russia's first Borey class strategic nuclear submarine, are due to start in the summer, when navigation begins in the White Sea.
Two other Borey class nuclear submarines - the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh - are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard, and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build a total of eight submarines of this class by 2015.