Russia to resume Bulava tests

"Alexander Nevsky" will continue trials in the Whites Sea this summer. (Photo: Sevmash)

Russia plans to resume testing of the submarine-launched ballistic missile Bulava this summer. The country’s two newest strategic nuclear-powered submarines will start trials as soon as the ice conditions in the White Sea will allow.


The two strategic Borey class nuclear-powered submarines “Vladimir Monomakh” and “Alexander Nevsky” will conduct four single launches of the Bulava missiles this summer. The test will be conducted from the usual exercise area in the White Sea to the Kura test site in Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka territory, ITAR-TASS reports.

“Alexander Nevsky” fired its first test missile in September 2013. The launch was unsuccessful and resulted in a halt of all trials of new submarines until the missile system could be further tested. The incident had been caused by production flaws, according to the commission investigating the failed launch.

Test launches of the Bulava have been experiencing significant problems. Of the 19 or 20 test launches that have been done since 2004 eight have been officially declared unsuccessful. However, some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures is considerably higher.

Russia has one rebuilt Typhoon class submarine it uses as test platform for the Bulava missiles.  The nearly forty years old “Dmitry Donskoy” is the world’s largest submarine and the only vessel testing the missile system from 2004 until the first-built Borey-class submarine “Yury Dolgoruky” launched its first missile in June 2011.

Whether “Dmitry Donskoy” did conduct any test launches of Bulava after the unsuccessful September launch, is not known.

“Yury Dolgoruky” was handed over to the Northern Fleet in Januar 2013. “Vladimir Monomakh” and “Alexander Nevsky” are both planned to be put into service in the Pacific Fleet. The crossing from the White Sea to the Pacific will not take place earlier than autumn 2015, a source said to ITAR-TASS.

The fourth vessel in the Borey class, “Knyaz Vladimir”, is still under construction at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk.