23 Dec 2008

Russian Sea-Based Missile Fails Fifth Test

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The current Russian government, emboldened by a tremendous windfall of revenue from recently surging petroleum and other commodity prices, has been flexing its muscles and promising to update Russia’s strategic weapons arsenal. After all there’s nothing like pointing a missile loaded with multiple thermonuclear warheads at the rest of the world’s civilian population centers to give a backward country with a dismal record of self government a major voice in world affairs.

Now with the world economy contracting, production, demand, and commodity prices falling, Russia is going to be experiencing a shortage of cash, so competing with the US on a strategic triad (land, air, and sea-based strategic weapons) is going to be much more difficult. And things haven’t been going all that satisfactorily right now.

SF Chronicle:

Russia’s new sea-based ballistic missile has failed in a test launch for the fifth time, signaling serious trouble with the highly advertised key future component of the nation’s nuclear forces.

The Bulava “self-destructed and exploded in the air” after a launch from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine beneath surface of the White Sea, said Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo.

Russia has been making an aggressive effort in recent years to upgrade its missile forces after years of post-Soviet underfunding and a lack of testing.

The Kremlin has hailed the missile as capable of penetrating any prospective missile defenses. …

The Bulava is reportedly designed to have a maximum range of about 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) and carry six individually targeted nuclear warheads. It is expected to equip three new Borei-class nuclear submarines that are under construction.

“This is a serious blow to Russia’s military plans to deploy the Borei submarines,” said independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. “The failure delays (Bulava’s) production and deployment indefinitely.”

Russian news agencies said that Tuesday’s test was the fifth failure out of 10 launches since 2004.

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