Russia has completed the first successful launch of the naval ballistic missile, Bulava. It was launched from the strategic nuclear sub Dmitry Donskoy, and hit its target at the Kura range in Kamchatka.
According to Igor Digalao, the deputy head of the Russian Navy:
“The launch was from a submerged position and was performed as part of the state control and test programme of the weapon system. The trajectory parameters were according to normal operation mode and the warheads were delivered to the Kura range.”
As if the world isn’t tense enough when it comes to nuclear warfare, the Bulava missile ups the ante by boasting multiple nuclear warheads and a range of 8,000 kilometers (about 5,000 miles). The Bulava carries the NATO reporting name, SS-NX-30, and in international treaties is designated as RSM-56. The Bulava missile completed the first stage launch-tests at the end of 2004, and was originally slated for completion in late 2006. Now, however, it is not expected to be ready for service until 2009. The Bulava design is based on the SS-27 (Topol M), but is lighter and more complex. The two missiles are expected to have comparable ranges, and similar CEP and warhead configurations.
Prime minister Putin has stated that Bulava could penetrate any potential anti-missile defense system. It claims to be capable of evasive maneuvering, mid-course countermeasures and decoys and a warhead fully shielded against both physical and EMP damage. The current version of the Bulava is able to carry up to six MIRV warheads, but the future variants are expected to carry a maximum of ten.
The recent launch of the Bulava was successful, but it marked the ninth attempt. During previous attempts, warheads failed to spread and hit their targets. Does perseverance pay off?
Only time and more nuclear weaponry will tell.
Stay warm this winter, but…shiver at the possibilities.