The Russian Navy has finally introduced the Bulava (SS-NX-30) sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into service, the country's naval chief vice admiral Viktor Chirkov has confirmed.
Chirkov told RIA Novosti: "The Bulava missile has de facto been adopted for service with the navy and the paperwork is being completed."
The ballistic missile has been deployed on to the newest strategic nuclear submarine of Project 955 Borey-class, Yury Dolgoruky, which is scheduled to be operational with the navy before 29 July 2012.
Bulava ICBM had been put through a series of 18 to 19 test launches before deployment, of which only 11 have been officially declared as successful.
The Russian military had previously claimed that there was no alternative to the Bulava missile despite it facing several previous failures, which were attributed to manufacturing faults.
Developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, the SS-NX-30 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) can carry ten MIRV warheads with a range of 8,000km.
Designed to replace the R-39 solid-fuel SLBM for the Russian Navy, the three-stage Bulava missile is capable of carrying up to ten MIRV warheads and has a range of more than 8,000km.
The strategic nuclear submarine of Project 955 Borei-class, Yuri Dolgoruky is capable of carrying 16 ballistic missiles, torpedoes and a crew of 107 at a speed of 29k and has a hull diameter of 13m and a depth of 450m.
According to Chirkov, the fourth-generation 170m-long Yuri Dolgoruky can carry 16 Bulava ICBMs with a range of 8,000km.
Image: Russia's Yuri Dolgoruky submarine will be equipped with Bulava missile. Photo: courtesy of Schekinov Alexey Victorovich.