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.