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Russian to conduct five Bulava missile tests this year

Test launch of Bulava missile. A File photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia plans to carry out at least five test launches of the new Bulava sea-based ballistic missile and put the ICBM into service by the end of 2009.

Deputy Defence minister Vladimir Popovkin told Ria Novosti on Thursday that despite five failures in 10 trials, the ministry will complete a series of Bulava tests.

"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," he said.

A faulty detail has 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, he added.

The Russian Navy had planned three Bulava test launches from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine this year, according to Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, deputy chief of the Navy General Staff.

"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.

Sea trials of Russia's first Borey class strategic nuclear submarine, Yury Dolgoruky, 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, the news agency said.

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