New test launches of the troubled Bulava missile will start later this year following a recent unsuccessful launch that forced the Russian military to suspend sea trials of new Borey-class subs, a senior government official said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered five additional launches of Bulava SLBM following a failed launch on September 6 when a missile fired during state trials of the Alexander Nevsky nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea fell on the second minute of flight.
“I am not sure if all five launches will take place this year but they will certainly start in 2013,” Ivan Kharchenko, a first deputy chairman of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission, told reporters on Friday.
The next launch could be carried out from any of the three Borey-class submarines that are already afloat, the official said.
Kharchenko also said a state commission led by the Russian Navy Commander Adm. Viktor Chirkov could complete its investigation of the recent failed launch within two weeks.
“The commission has not yet reported any findings,” he added.
With September 6 failure, eight of 19 or 20 test launches of the troubled Bulava have been officially declared unsuccessful. However, some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures could be considerably higher.
Despite several previous failures officially blamed on manufacturing faults, the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava.