Moscow: A test-firing of a new Russian sea-based missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads ended in failure today when the weapon disintegrated after launch, the Interfax news agency reported.
“After its firing from the submarine Dmitry Donskoy, the Bulava missile self-liquidated and exploded in 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. No damage or casualties were caused by the rocket’s explosion, the source said.
Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo did not directly comment on the report but confirmed that a test firing of the Bulava had taken place today morning in the White Sea.
He told the agency that “the results of the firing are being analysed.”
The Bulava, which can be equipped with up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads, has a maximum range of 8,000 kilometres 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.
The source told Interfax that three or four more test firings of the Bulava are planned in 2009 before it is to be deployed with Russian missile forces.
The last test-firing on November 28 had been successful, with the missile hitting its target on the Kamchatka Peninsula near the Pacific Ocean after a flight-path around 6,000 kilometres in length.
The head of Russia’s missile forces, Nikolai Solovtsev, said last week that Moscow was planning a full refurbishment of its Soviet-era missile arsenal by 2020.