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Russia Not to Deploy Bulava Missiles Before July

Russia is not expected to begin deploying submarine-launched Bulava missiles before July, ITAR-Tass reported on Thursday (see GSN, March 22).

"It will take six to seven months to document everything" following the end of the missile testing period last December, First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov said to journalists. "The work, which is envisaged for the production of the missile system, continues."

Last month, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said the Bulava would not enter into service before October and that additional test flights could be ordered for this summer.

The Bulava has had a mixed success record in testing to date. The missile was developed to carry as many as 10 nuclear warheads and to travel as far as 5,000 miles. It would be carried on the new Borei-class submarines (ITAR-Tass, April 19).

A military purchasing order for the Borei vessels could be postponed due to the high price tag, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Saturday.

"The Defense Ministry is again dissatisfied with the price substantiation, so the signing of the contract is ruled out in the near future," a naval manufacturing insider said in an interview with the newspaper.

The Russian United Shipbuilding Corp.estimated it would need $4.4 billion to build the desired ballistic missile submarines, RIA Novosti summarized from the article.

"The manufacturers still want to sell it at an unjustifiably high price," an unidentified Defense Ministry insider said. The ship construction sector, however, contends the price sought by Moscow would only allow for a very small profit margin.

Under the most recently updated Russian military procurement program, the navy is to take receipt of no fewer than 10 Borei vessels over the next eight years (RIA Novosti, April 14).

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