Russia will carry out the last test of the Bulava ballistic missile this year by the end of November, a defense industry source said on Wednesday.
“It will be a salvo launch from the Yury Dolgoruky strategic submarine, and it will involve at least two missiles,” the source said.
The planned test is the fourth this year and the 18th overall. Despite several previous failures, officially blamed on manufacturing faults, the Russian military has insisted that the Bulava will be the main armament of the next generation of strategic submarines.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) submarine-launched ballistic missile carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage missile is designed for deployment on Borey-class nuclear submarines.
Russia’s first Borey class submarine, Yury Dolgoruky, which has recently completed sea trials in the White Sea, is expected to enter service with the Russian Navy in the near future, pending the outcome of the Bulava testing.
Meanwhile, a Russian Navy source told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that the second Borey class submarine, the Alexander Nevsky, will start its second stage of sea trials in the next three days if weather permits.
“The submarine is ready for sea trials to test its performance and communications,” the source said.
The $750-million vessel is expected to complete all trials and enter service with the Russian Navy in 2012.
Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Vladimir Monomakh and the Svyatitel Nikolai (St. Nicholas) are in different stages of completion. Russia is planning to build eight of these subs by 2015.