Russia will have to overhaul the whole production and manufacturing system of its troubled Bulava ballistic missile if this autumn's tests fail again, the defense minister said on Friday.
Anatoly Serdyukov said that if failures continue and their causes prove to be different, "then we will have to overhaul the whole system of production and [manufacture] control of these missiles."
The Bulava (SS-NX-30), a three-stage liquid and solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), has officially suffered seven failures in 12 tests.
Bulava test launches were put on hold after the most recent failed launch, from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine in the White Sea on December 9, 2009, pending the results of a government investigation.
The failure was caused by a defective engine nozzle. A source close to state commission, which investigated the failure, said the malfunction was caused not by the design but by a manufacturing fault.
The next test launches, initially scheduled for mid-August, have repeatedly been postponed.
"The next three launches of the Bulava missile will be held until the first ice appears. We will definitely launch [the missiles]," Serdyukov said.
Some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures was considerably larger, with Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer suggesting that of the Bulava's 12 test launches, only one was entirely successful.
The future development of the Bulava has been questioned by several lawmakers and defense industry officials, who suggest that all efforts should be focused on the existing Sineva SLBM.
WASHINGTON, September 17 (RIA Novosti)