Russia Successful in Test Launches of Bulava missile

Bulava Test FireRussia on Wednesday carried out its second successful submarine launch of a Bulava strategic missile in two months.

The back-to-back tests come roughly a year after Russian military leaders considered putting the sea trials of two nuclear-powered Borei-class subs on hold after one missile experienced a malfunction during its second minute into flight, the English-language Russian news site RT reported.

The Bulava – Russian for mace or club – is a critical part of Russia’s nuclear program but one that has experienced a series of problems over its decade long development. To date about a third of its 22 test launches – either ground or undersea – have failed, though just one of the last nine.

On Wednesday, the missile was launched by the Yuri Dolgoruky (K-535), its multiple warheads landing on target at the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, RT reported.

“The actions of firing of the missile by the commander of the vessel 1st Rank Captain Vladimir Shirina and the Yuri Dolgoruky’s crew are assessed as professional and competent,” the Russian defense ministry said in a widely reported statement.

The event also marked the first time that a launch was conducted with a full oad of Bulava missiles on board the submarine, the Russian news agency TASS reported.

Bulavas are three-stage missiles. The first two are solid fuel propelled and the third, liquid. The missile is capable of carrying from six to 10 hypersonic, individually guided 100-150 kiloton nuclear warheads. The Bulava has a range of 5,000 miles.

Currently, Russia has only two Borei-class “stealthy” submarines, but is on track to have eight by 2020, according to reports.

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Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.
  • Lance

    Shows we need less JLTV and JSF and APCs and need to update our neglected strategic SSBMs.

    Two maybe we should increase sanctions it will slows Russia’s Borei class sub production.

  • blight_

    We’re still negotiating from a position of strength. If ORP doesn’t go through, proceed with a new Trident. Or an missile that deploys a low RCS lifting body warhead with over 5,000 km range (above the upper bounds of the INF Treaty).

    Low RCS PGS.

  • Dfens

    Meanwhile back in the good ol’ USofA, Rutan’s SpaceShip2 crashed and burned. That f’ing thing replaces the the P-38 as the poster child for compressibility issues. It was only a matter of time before Rutan killed someone. Now he’s done it all.

  • Stratege

    For sure, Bulava’s payload is not outstanding. But it’s more interesting how actually “quasi ballistic” trajectory works for the “warhead bus” and for the warheads apart.
    Also there is question how fast its boost phase is compared to the older generation solid-fueled and liquid-propellant SLBMs

  • Kostas

    Bulava does not introduce any new capability that US does not currently have. My impression Russia that they had to develop it because its current armamentarium is incapable. So I don’t see Bulava as a threat, I think they are just trying to get to a capability level that we thought they already have had for all these years.

  • Chris

    I thought it was a engine explosion/problem that caused break up!

  • jack

    Meanwhile Obama is busy on the back nine at Andrews…..

    • tiger

      Can’t keep a good nine iron down…..

      This guy plays more than Tiger Woods lately.

  • Kurt Montandon

    Meanwhile we already have perfectly functioning ICBMs and SLBMs, so Obama can play golf all he wants while Russia plays catch-up.

  • superraptor

    Our minuteman ICBMs are 40 years old and falling apart and now only carry on nuclear warhead and can be intercepted. And the administration is continuing to dismantle them. It unilaterally had all 200 nuclear cruise missiles we had destroyed in 2010. Russia and China are winning and we may be nuclear dust one day

  • JohnQ

    We’re discussing the performance, or lack thereof, of Russian nukes, as if it matters. Even with Russian nuclear delivery systems performing kinda poorly during tests, it’s not as if the U.S. is going to say to itself, ‘oh, Russian SLBMs aren’t doing well in tests, so now we can risk nuclear war with Russia.’ No, the doctrine Mutually Assured Destruction still reigns, even if Russian weapons aren’t the greatest.

    I’m far more concerned with how more prosaic military equipment of ours performs (e.g., stuff that better protects our troops against IEDS, drones, etc.), because that will have much more of an impact in saving our troops’ lives in the types of wars that we’re most likely to fighting. We’re far more likely to be fighting asymmetrical war in sandbox somewhere, rather than engaging in a nuclear exchange with Russia.

  • ruger

    Wow, a 100% success rate over two launches! Way to go…

  • Steven Stevens

    Stop scoffing. With Obola’s continuing purge of our Command talent
    and replacement with political toadies, I’d be afraid of Russia with a sling-shot.

  • kuroiryu

    We should have been pursuing passive sub detection decades ago. With the technologies that have evolved since the concept was first proposed, a success in this area could be done in months.

  • kuroiryu

    P.S. For the record, the Russians have 3 borei class subs on active duty. Two in the Pacific fleet and another around Kola Bay in the artic fleet.