Russia puts submarine-launched Bulava intercontinental missile into service

By Thomson Reuters May 14, 2024 | 6:41 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has put its submarine-launched Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile into service, state media said on Tuesday, a a key element in the modernisation of its nuclear arsenal.

TASS news agency quoted the missile’s chief designer Yuri Solomonov as saying its adoption was announced in a decree dated May 7, the same day that President Vladimir Putin began a new six-year term in the Kremlin.

Putin has warned the West since the start of the war in Ukraine that direct intervention by NATO troops there could trigger a nuclear conflict. In March he said he did not believe the United States was “rushing” towards this, but that Russia’s nuclear forces were technically ready.

The Bulava was developed under a programme that started in the 1990s, and is designed to be deployed on Russia’s Borei-class submarines.

Last November, the defence ministry said one of those submarines had successfully test-launched the Bulava, firing it from an underwater position in the White Sea off northern Russia and hitting a target thousands of kilometres away on the Kamchatka peninsula in the far east.

TASS said Russia’s Northern and Pacific fleets now include seven Borei submarines and each carries 16 Bulavas. Solomonov is chief designer at the Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering that also developed Russia’s Topol-M and Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles.

According to the Missile Defense Project at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Bulava has a range of 8,300 km (5,160 miles) and a payload of up to 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles or MIRVs, capable of delivering nuclear warheads to different targets.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)