Bulava designer Yuriy Solomonov seems to have come out from underground now that the Bulava SLBM has some successes under its belt.
Yesterday the Russian media carried excerpts from a soon-to-be-published interview with Igor Korotchenko’s Natsionalnaya oborona.
Solomonov already has a book about his adventures in missile design to his credit. The only thing that’s changed is the Bulava program seems to be righting itself.
Solomonov said, not surprisingly, that the Bulava’s warheads are ready, and he expects the missile to stay in the inventory until 2050.
He expects Votkinsk to ramp up for Bulava production. He noted that, for a facility that produced 100 missiles a year in Soviet times, “Now there isn’t any kind of problem from the point of view of organizing the technological process and organizing people for this task.”
Solomonov said Borey-class SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy will begin (like Dmitriy Donskoy did) with a surface test launch. But he doesn’t rule out that this could be changed to a submerged launch. The tentative date is 17 December.
He forecasts 4 tests in 2011, the start of serial Bulava production, and possibly the missile’s acceptance into the Navy arsenal, if it achieves a “high reliability coefficient.”
In the interview, Solomonov apparently will talk about how Bulava could be adapted into a ground-launched missile. This brings back the whole issue of “inter-service unification,” which led to some of the excitement with Bulava.
Svpressa.ru and Anatoliy Tsyganok have a good time lambasting Solomonov for this (again) if you want to take a look.
President Toasts the Kuropatkins (photo: Aleksandr Astafyev)
The Pacific Fleet command and investigators say the shooting of a 22-year-old lieutenant assigned to a 35-year-old LST in Fokino was a suicide attempt, and not the result of ‘nonregulation relations’ or dedovshchina. The incident occurred 1 December. Lieutenant Maksim Kuropatkin was found with a gunshot wound to the head, and he remains in a coma. Investigators say he shot himself with his service sidearm in the presence of two witnesses. No criminal case has been initiated. Their preliminary conclusion is that Kuropatkin suffered a nervous breakdown caused by difficulty adapting to life in the service.
Moskovskiy komsomolets point out the Kuropatkin case is a little special because President Dmitriy Medvedev was the surprise guest of honor at the lieutenant’s wedding in early July. Medvedev was touring the Far East, and arrived at Birobidzhan’s wedding palace in time to witness three marriages including Kuropatkin’s. Medvedev wished the lieutenant and his bride a “long happy family life.” He ordered the governor of the Jewish AO to find apartments for all three couples. About a month ago, the Kuropatkins got their apartment.
Kuropatkin’s family doesn’t believe his shooting was a suicide attempt. They say he was always goal-oriented, and aimed for a military career from age 14 (presumably he attended a Nakhimov Naval School). He graduated from the Pacific Naval Institute late this spring, married, and had been in his first assignment only a couple months.
They also say Kuropatkin recently mentioned the name of a senior officer who often picked on him, and was constantly nagging him to draw up some kind of documents, and when Kuropatkin refused, he said, “Well, that’s it, it’s the end for you.”
A 24-year-old lieutenant named Ivan Yegorov died in what was also called a suicide aboard Slava-class CG Varyag in mid-November. MK sums up saying:
“According to the opinion of knowledgeable people, dedovshchina in the officer environment ranges up to physical violence and shootings.”
RIA Novosti also reported a Baltic Fleet suicide this week. A 23-year-old lieutenant from the Pionerskiy garrison reportedly shot himself in the chest with a Makarov pistol. He apparently left a note. The chair of the Kaliningrad Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers said she was completely surprised by this incident, adding that there have never been “any signals” of problems from the unit where this lieutenant served.