Bulava missile: 13th time lucky

The newest Russian intercontinental nuclear missile Bulava has successfully been tested on Thursday. All warheads hit their targets on Kamchatka Peninsula.

Strategic ballistic missile nuclear-powered submarine Dmitry Donskoy, the world’s biggest existing submarine, has successfully launched the Bulava missile from the White Sea in Russia’s Far North to the Kura Range, 380 kilometers to the north of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky city.

This launch breaks a chain of unsuccessful tests. Unofficially, of the previous 12, only five were considered fully effective.

Bulava (SS-NX-30 by NATO classification) is Russia’s latest three-stage, solid-propellant missile, which carries 10 hypersonic maneuvering warheads with a payload up to 150 kilotons each, at a distance of up to 8,000 kilometers.

The missile was designed specially for the new SSBN Borey class, which is set with the missile silos inclined towards the stem so they can be fired from submerged positions without stopping the vessel. Construction of the first Borey class submarine Yury Dolgoruky is complete. The construction of the other two, Aleksandr Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh, is underway.

SSBN Borey class Yury Dolgoruky performs an emergency surfacing during final tests, September 2010
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The first one will carry 10 missiles, while the following ones will have 12 silos.

The previous failures of the missile put the whole project under question at a certain point, but it was decided to drive a nail home. Thus the responsibility for the launch was immense and unprecedented measures of production quality control were introduced.

Borey submarines armed with Bulava missiles are expected to be an integral part of the Russian nuclear triad until 2040.