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Further Bulava Trials Expected in Mid-2012: Report

Russia intends to carry out additional trial flights of its Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile this summer, a Russian navy insider told RIA Novosti on Tuesday (see GSN, Feb. 22).

Neither the quantity of anticipated trial firings nor their potential impact on the missile's scheduled entry into service was certain. The weapon is slated for placement on active duty in October, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday.

A pair of Bulava trial flights on Dec. 23 unfolded as intended; President Dmitry Medvedev that month said the missile had completed the vetting process and would be placed on active status. Some analysts, though, have argued the nuclear-capable weapon remains plagued by technical problems and that its activation would create too many defense complications to be worthwhile.

Moscow has declared success in 11 of the missile's 18 to 19 trial launches, RIA Novosti reported, but some issue specialists said performance aberrations might have been significantly more frequent. Just one of the missile's initial 12 trials unfolded exactly as intended, Russian defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer has said (RIA Novosti, March 20).

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