Bulava can be commissioned in 2011 if the carrier sub is ready
Text: RIA Novosti
Photo: Bulava launch. Rossiya TV channel
Russian Navy may receive new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) Bulava even in 2011 if four or five test launches are successful and all defects revealed in the carrier submarine SSBN Yury Dolgoruky are eliminated.
Recent two launches of SLBM Bulava held on Oct 7 and 29 were found successful. Meanwhile, this time some problems came up with the submarine SSBN Yury Dolgoruky, said general designer of Moscow Thermotechnics Institute Yury Solomonov, principal developer of Bulava.
"Once all launches scheduled in 2011 are effective, I hope that the 'sub plus missile' system will be commissioned into Russian Navy", Solomonov said.
He specified that it was totally planned to conduct four or five launches with standard carrier submarine in 2011.
By now, seven out of fourteen test launches of Bulava were successful.
Solomonov added that SLBM Bulava has been serially produced for recent three years, and Votkinsky Machinery Plant which assembles the missile is capable to boost production.
Bulava: the Navy's hope and support
In prospect, submarine-launched ballistic missile Bulava is expected to become the core element of Russian naval strategic nuclear force; new Bulava-carrying submarines have been already laid down. They are Project 955 Borei nuclear submarines Ц SSBN Yury Dolgoruky, SSBN Alexander Nevsky, SSBN Vladimir Monomakh and others. Totally, it is planned to build eight subs of this project till 2015.
Despite some faulty launches, the missile itself has not undergone any engineering changes.
"No changes have been introduced into the missile technical documentation. The latest state commission did not make any notes related to the missile's design alteration", said Solomonov.
According to him, there was some criticism but it deals only with organizational aspect.
"It was told to intensify control, improve discipline, and outfit the missile with some additional elements", explained Solomonov.
Bulava flew but the sub gave out
SSBN Yury Dolgoruky will be laid up for elimination of technical defects, reported yesterday RIA Novosti citing Yury Solomonov.
"In the nearest time Yury Dolgoruky will be placed on slipways of Sevmash shipyard for defect elimination. The information that the sub is fully ready for commissioning into the Navy is rumors", Solomonov said.
He said that the troubleshooting works would be carried out at least half a year.
"If these defects are repaired till summer 2011, the sub will conduct 15th launch of Bulava. If not, the further launches will be carried out by SSBN Dmitry Donskoy again, like it was in the current year", added Solomonov.
Works on heavy missile is in progress
Having developed not only Bulava but ICBM Topol-M and newest missile RS-24 Yars, Solomonov commented development process of a heavy missile which is to shift RS-18 and RS-20 created as early as in Soviet epoch. In particular, Solomonov said that Russia's state arms program provides researches related with new heavy ballistic missile till 2020. First who officially declared this in Dec 2009 was Strategic Forces Commander Andrei Shvaichenko.
Nonetheless, Solomonov underlined that design works are quite enough at the present level in order to make a collegial expert decision in 2012-2013 whether to create the missile. As for Solomonov, such complicated and important issue as development of new strategic weapon should not be considered only by defense ministry.
"This matter goes beyond the defense ministry's competence. This is a national issue", Solomonov said.
According to him, the efforts expended on development of new heavy missile won't reduce technological gap with other countries, particularly the U.S. Moreover, "this [development of heavy missile] is what makes technological gap irretrievable". Besides, there are arms reduction trends across the world, and the development of new heavy missile conflicts with them, pointed out Solomonov.