Speaking Friday in Novorossiysk while accompanying Prime Minister Putin, Navy CINC Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy said the Bulava SLBM commission will report 20 May on its findings regarding the last unsuccessful test launch. He also promised:
“We are working continuously and checking the entire process of the missile’s development.”
“Continuous work of voyenpredy [military factory representatives] is being implemented. Right down to a screw, with the submission of corresponding certificates.”
“. . . all enterprises active in Bulava production are working under control of military acceptance. We are checking the entire process from beginning to end.”
RIA Novosti reminded readers that, despite a string of unsuccessful tests (only 5 of 12 have been considered successful), the Defense Ministry still considers it ‘unrealistic’ to put another type of ballistic missile in new proyekt 955 SSBNs.
In February, Defense Minister Serdyukov expressed his certainty that Bulava problems would not affect the laydown of the next proyekt 955 submarine, the fourth in the series. Officially, Moscow says Bulava will be carried through until the necessary result is obtained, and the missile will be the basis of sea-based strategic nuclear forces until 2040-2045.
One has to wonder, what happens if, after all the emphasis on eliminating production defects, Bulava still doesn’t fly? Where does Moscow turn next for answers.
Vysotskiy also told journalists two proyekt 941 Akula (Typhoon-class SSBNs Arkhangelsk TK-17 and Severstal TK-20) will remain in the Russian Navy’s order-of-battle until 2019. He said:
“They will be in a combat condition until 2019. They have very great modernization possibilities.”
This isn’t the first time he’s said this, but he hasn’t said how the 1980s-era SSBNs might be used or altered:
“There are several options, but the decision has yet to be made.”
Of course, TK-208 Dmitriy Donskoy was modified to be the Bulava test platform.