Tag Archives: Dmitriy Donskoy

Update on Next Bulava Test

Today’s Kommersant cites Interfaks saying a session of the state commission deciding on the next Bulava SLBM test will happen during the next week.  Kommersant’s own OPK source confirmed this, calling the session a formality since the commission’s already announced that testing needs to continue in the near future.  The source says, after the commission meets, another week is needed to prepare for a launch, so look for the next test in late August or early September.

Kommersant quotes an unnamed OPK official who said the planned launch in the 11-13 August timeframe was postponed because “additional stand tests of the system were conducted with the goal of more rigorous preparation for the launches.”

Kommersant reminds readers three launches are planned before year’s end — two from Dmitriy Donskoy (proyekt 941U Akula) and one from Yuriy Dolgorukiy (proyekt 955 Borey).

The paper’s OPK source claims, in view of Bulava’s failures, “this strategic missile system will only be accepted into the inventory after a minimum of five consecutive successful tests.”

Defective Bulava Nozzle

That same highly-placed RIA Novosti source in the Navy Main Staff also said the next Bulava SLBM test will occur in August or September from Dmitriy Donskoy.  A favorable outcome would led to another test launch from Dmitriy Donskoy, then a third launch from the missile’s intended platform Yuriy Dolgorukiy.

RIA Novosti also reported a source — close to the state commission investigating the cause of the last failed Bulava launch — said yesterday that the cause of the unsuccessful December 2009 test was a malfunctioning rocket nozzle.  He said:

“The state commission established that the nondeployment of Bulava’s extendible nozzle between the missile’s first and second stages was the cause of the last unsuccessful launch.”

He added that the nozzle problem was not caused by a design flaw, but by a production defect, and the missile was simply made incorrectly.

RIA Novosti recalled that First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin, on 30 June, said only that the commission had recommended continuing Bulava testing.  He didn’t comment on any conclusions on the cause of the last Bulava failure.

Bulava SLBM Test Next Month


This afternoon a Navy Main Staff source told Interfaks the next Bulava SLBM test will occur in mid-August from modified proyekt 941 Akula (Typhoon-class) SSBN TK-208 Dmitriy Donskoy.  This is earlier than previously announced.  The Navy source also claimed that the new proyekt 955 SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy will be the launch platform for one of this year’s three planned Bulava tests.  He also reiterated that Russian military men are committed to Bulava, seeing no alternative to it as the Navy’s nuclear deterrent for the future.

In May, Defense Minister Serdyukov said three identical Bulava missiles are being assembled in the hope of discovering a common flaw in their construction.  Serdyukov said the next Bulava launch wouldn’t occur before November at the earliest.

Thrust Control Problem on Bulava

Bulava Test (photo: IA Rosbalt)

 Aleksey Nikolskiy in Vedomosti reports that Bulava testing will resume this summer.  He says the problem in December may have been a defect in the third stage engine, not a design flaw. 

Tests may resume this summer from the modified Dmitriy Donskoy SSBN.  Yesterday ITAR-TASS reported a minimum of two tests would be conducted from Donskoy.  If successful, testing would move to the missile’s intended platform, the new Proyekt 955 Yuriy Dolgorukiy, this fall.  

A Navy Main Staff representative told Vedomosti that Dolgorukiy would need to fire several missiles in a salvo launch.  An industry source said, if all these tests were successful, a “preliminary document on completion of the first phase of testing” could be signed and serial production of the missile could start. 

The Defense Ministry and OPK commission investigating the December failure has provided optimism for those involved, according to a source close to the commission.  In his words, a third-stage thrust control mechanism produced by the Perm-based NPO Iskra failed in the December test.  So some conclude the missile’s overall design is sound and it makes sense to continue work on it. 

Mikhail Barabanov says “shock work” on Bulava might be risky, since MIT already promised that it could produce the missile quickly and cheaply.  Konstantin Makiyenko reiterates the lack of an alternative missile to keep a naval component in Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. 

Denis Telmanov in Gzt.ru adds that a Defense Ministry source has not excluded the possibility that another design bureau, possibly Kolomna Machinebuilding, has gotten orders to work on a missile.  The Makeyev GRTs is another possibility, but its deputy general designer responded that quick development of a missile was physically impossible.  He said, even from an existing system, it would take 5-6 years.  And he said no one in the country’s leadership has taken a decision to start work on a new missile. 

All stories repeated the expressions of support for Bulava from the Defense Minister and Navy CINC.