Moscow: Russia on Thursday successfully tested its new nuclear-capable Bulava intercontinental missile, the defence ministry said, its first successful firing for months after a series of embarrassing failures.
The missile was fired from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea in North European Russia and hit its target in the Kura firing area on the Kamchatka peninsula on the Pacific Ocean some 6,000 kilometres (3,730 miles) away, it said.
“The parameters of the trajectory worked out as planned and the warheads successfully landed at the Kura firing area,” said a defence ministry statement quoted by Russian news agencies.
The last firing of the Bulava in December ended in one of the military’s worst embarrassments in recent years when the missile disintegrated early in its flight, producing a spectacular plume of light visible over Norway.
Russian news agencies said the firing was the 13th test of the Bulava. Of the last 12 test firings, only five have been deemed to be fully or partially successful.
The Bulava, which can be equipped with up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads, has a maximum range of 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles).
“This weapon will guarantee the security of Russia in the next 30-40 years,” Russian defence expert Igor Korchenko, who advises the defence ministry, told the RIA Novosti news agency.
Its incorporation into the armed forces is part of a wide-ranging military reform aimed at updating the armed forces’ Soviet-era structures and equipment to bring them in line with the demands of modern warfare.
December’s failed launch of the Bulava caused spectacular images in the sky above the Norwegian city of Tromso, prompting initial speculations they were caused by a meteor, the northern lights or even a UFO.
According to Russian news reports, the defence ministry has ploughed a large proportion of its procurement budget into ensuring the missile becomes the key element of its rocket forces.
A high-ranking source in the Russian chief of staff told the Interfax news agency that the missile could now be taken into the armed forces as early as the middle of 2011.
“Two more tests are planned by the end of the year and if they are successful then the question can be posed about a completion of the testing,” said the source, who was not named.
The missile is designed for use with Russia’s new Borei class of nuclear submarines like the Yury Dolgoruky and Alexander Nevsky. Analysts have said the vessels risk being worthless unless the Bulava works.
The successful launch of the Bulava is a major boost for the armed forces and came on the same day India announced it intended to buy up to 300 advanced stealth fighter jets from Russia.
Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov had earlier this week given a withering assessment of the Russian defence industry, saying the country was looking to buy abroad rather than buying Russian models that failed to meet the required standards.
Russia last month announced plans to triple its defence spending to 19 trillion rubles (613 billion dollars, 454 billion euros) over the next decade as part of its military modernisation drive.