The Bulava sea-based ballistic missile has de facto entered service, Navy chief Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said on Monday.
“The Bulava missile has de facto been adopted for service with the Navy and the de jure paperwork is being completed,” Chirkov said.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM, developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (since 1998), carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey-class nuclear submarines.
Only 11 of 18 or 19 test launches of the troubled Bulava have been officially declared successful.
However, some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures is considerably higher. Despite several previous failures officially blamed on manufacturing faults, the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava.
Last week the St. Petersburg City Court sentenced two university professors to long prison terms for selling military secrets to China, including data on the Bulava missile system.