bulavaBulava SLBM Update:  According to press reports, the star-crossed Bulava SLBM will go into serial production “soon” – most probably after the next test flight.  There is one more test shot scheduled for sometime later this month (after 21 Dec) after which it is anticipated that the new SLBM will be declared operational.  Nine tests of the SS-27 derived, solid-fueled SLBM have been attempted with between 4-6 failures in the test series.  Tentatively given the NATO designation SS-NX-30, the Bulava, as we have documented here previously, along with the a new-class SSBN (led by the Yuri Dogoruky) are the replacements for the Typhoon and its R-39 missiles.  Shorter and wider than the R-39, the Bulava would not be able to be backfitted to earlier SSBNs (save one highly modified Typhoon used as a test bed) and further failures would put the Russian sea-based missile leg at risk as there were no other missiles in development.


  1. Thomas Barton, J.D.

    SJS, Do you have any thoughts on the engineering mindset reflected in this shorter, wider design? Also, is the lack of compatibility with the Typhoon silo dimensions a tacit admission that these mighty boats are too expensive to maintain ?

  2. Michael O.

    I just think it’s kind of funny that out of the 10 total test firings before it is declared “operational”, 4-6 of those failed. If a missile system here in the US had a failure rate of 50%, the program would probably would have been canned…

    And just think this is their strategic deterrent force?…

  3. Steeljawscribe

    OTOH, the sea-based leg is but a smaller part of the SRF which places great store in their land-mobile ICBMs, which are very reliable. Then too there is the typical Russian doggedness about getting something to work as well…
    – SJS

  4. MznBluShu

    Yury Dolgoruky news…

    Russia’s Yury Dolgoruky Submarine To Start Sea Trials By Yearend (RIA NOVOSTI 18 DEC 08)

    SEVERODVINSK — Russia’s first Borey-class strategic nuclear submarine will start sea trials by the end of 2008, a defense industry source said on Thursday.
    The fourth-generation Yury Dolgoruky was built at the Sevmash plant in northern Russia and was taken out of dry dock in April 2007. It will be equipped with Bulava ballistic missiles upgraded from Topol-M (SS-27) missiles.
    “The successful testing of the submarine’s nuclear reactor, conducted on December 16 by Sevmash and Northern Fleet specialists, enable us to say confidently that Yury Dolgoruky will start sea trials by yearend,” the source said.
    The submarine is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles.
    Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011.
    Russia’s Navy commander, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, said in July that the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile and attack submarines is a top priority for the Russian Navy’s development.
    Under the Russian State Armaments Program for 2007-2015, the Navy will receive several dozen surface ships and submarines, including five Project 955 Borey-class submarines, two Project 885 Yasen nuclear-powered attack submarines, and six Project 677 Lada diesel-electric submarines.

  5. bobbymike

    I have read from one source (numerous articles) that the US is looking at a 120″ diameter replacement for the Trident D5 (87″ diameter) which would make it as wide, although obviously not as tall, as an SS-18. Has anyone here read this and from what sources?

    If you added stages it would make a large heavy lift ICBM as well.

  6. Stephen Russell

    If Russian tech is unchanged since Cold War 1:
    1945-1991, Then Fine IF Not Id worry.
    Some Ruskie subs off HI can nuclearize the Western US alone

  7. MznBluShu

    Another Bulava failure. Hopefully the Russians will put into serial production regardless of its 3 for 8 success rate. Read on…

    New Russia Sea-Based Missile Fails Again In Test: Report

    MOSCOW – A test-firing of a new Russian sea-based missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads ended in failure Tuesday when the weapon disintegrated after launch, the Interfax news agency reported.

    “After its firing from the sumbarine Dmitry Donskoy, the Bulava missile self-liquidated and exploded into the air,” a military source told the agency.

    Interfax said this was the eighth test launch of the Bulava and the fifth time the firing has been unsuccessful.

    The Bulava, which can be equipped with up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads, has a maximum range of 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) and was first successfully tested in December 2005.

    It is the sea-based version of the Topol-M, designed to be launched from Moscow’s newest Borei class of submarines

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