The newest submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missile Bulava-30 failed in the White Sea. In the framework of flight and designer tests the missile was launched from nuclear submarine Dmitry Donskoy of the Northern Fleet from under water. Having been launched successfully from the submarine late in the afternoon on Thursday the missile failed to reach the target and fell into the sea. Because this test was announced by the Defense Ministry frequently the command of the Navy did not hide this fact. Last Friday, the fall of Bulava became a subject of conversation at a meeting of the governmental military industrial commission.
In the official statements it was emphasized that speaking at a meeting of the commission Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that “an important role in the nuclear triad is assigned to its maritime component, nuclear charges of which are placed on missile-carrying strategic submarines. Their quantity guarantees maintenance of the potential of the nuclear deterrence forces on the minimum permissible level by 2016 and in the future.”
The Deputy Prime Minister reports that a comprehensive targeted program of development of strategic missile-carrying submarines of projects 955 and 955A (Borey project submarines to be armed with the newest missile system Bulava) is currently underway. Ivanov stressed, “These very submarines have to become the main combat nucleus of maritime strategic forces of Russia after 2018.”
Along with this, Ivanov said that “the tests of Bulava missile conducted yesterday once again showed that in some directions of the program it was necessary to do a thorough analysis of the problem and to take urgent measures providing for guaranteed creation of a group of surface ships and submarines in guaranteed time.”
Concern of the minister is understandable. Bulava and missile system Topol-M created together with it will have to parry the threats in the future due to withdrawal of the US from the antimissile defense treaty.
Earlier, Yury Solomonov, Director and General Designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technologies that developed Bulava, announced that this maritime missile system and ground missile system Topol-M would “constitute the basis of the future group of strategic nuclear forces of Russia until 2040 and 2045. Five test launches of Bulava were performed and four of them were successful.”
Between 2006 and 2008, it will be necessary to perform at least ten launches of Bulava more. Solomonov adds that after that Bulava will be commissioned in 2008. So far, the General Designer did not comment on the fact of unsuccessful test of Bulava-30.
However, Major General Vladimir Dvorkin (his statements were published by several media), who had been the head of the fourth central research institute for a long time, said that the problems of tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that happened in the course of launch of Bulava-30 “are normal events.”
Solomonov remarked, “Failures always happen during flight tests of missiles. I think that if at least ten successful launches of Bulava are performed, it may be commissioned with the Armed Forces by the deadline.” Along with this, Dvorkin expressed concern about delay in construction of the nuclear submarines, “Not a single missile-carrying submarine was commissioned in the post-Soviet period.”
Admiral Baltin, hero of the Soviet Union and former Commander of the Black Sea Fleet who commanded formation of nuclear submarines in the Northern Fleet in the past and participated in tests of maritime intercontinental ballistic missiles. Baltin says with concern that submarines commissioned in the 1970s and 1980s, and currently constituting the maritime basis of the strategic nuclear forces “will not live for more than five years.” This means that new missile-carrying nuclear submarines and new missiles are needed. So far, the Navy has neither of them.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta published a statement of Baltin in which he characterized the real situation in the military industrial complex of the country. The admiral said that in the post-Soviet period “cycle of the production base was broken. Interaction of 500 enterprises of the country is necessary to put the maritime missile systems into operation. A part of them was privatized and a part was destroyed.” According to Baltin, Russia already does not have such military industrial complex that can provide for quick putting into operation of such a sophisticated system as maritime intercontinental ballistic missile. “That is why everything is difficult for General Designer Solomonov. I know that he encounters big production difficulties,” states Admiral Baltin.
He recalled that in the past (in the USSR) during testing of a missile system similar to Bulava-30 “we performed 20 real launches from the lead submarine alone. Only then we tested the entire system not only from the technical standpoint but also from the standpoint of combat application. We also did coordination of the crews of the nuclear submarines. Of course, this was expensive. Now our authorities wish to do everything quickly, well and cheaply. This cannot be.”
Thus, statements of experts demonstrate the real problems of the military industrial complex of the country. Against this background the report of Sergei Ivanov to President Vladimir Putin about successful launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles from submarines looks like a contrast. Well, missiles have been successful but missiles are ageing and there is nothing to replace them with. So far, Bulava is only being developed.