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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Troubled Rockets Set to Enter Production

The country's defense industry will start production of a submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missile after a recent successful test that followed repeated misfires, the Navy's chief was quoted by Interfax as saying Sunday.

Admiral Vladimir Masorin said the Navy had decided to order the industrial production of parts for the Bulava missile after a successful launch on June 28 from the White Sea.

"After this result, a decision was made to start creation of the military base for the system, in other words, the serial production of parts for this new missile system," Masorin said.

Four out of the six test launches since 2005 have failed, media have reported.

"After every unsuccessful test a massive amount of work is carried out to find out the cause of the failure," Masorin said in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based. He added that Russia would make two more long-range tests of the Bulava this year, but he said the details were secret.

Russia has the second largest submarine fleet in the world, after the United States. The fleet is the cornerstone of its nuclear deterrent.

Bulava is a flagship project that President Vladimir Putin has said can pierce any anti-missile shield. The missile is designed for Russia's new-generation Borei, or Arctic Wind, class nuclear submarines. The first, long-delayed submarine of the class -- named Yuri Dolgoruky -- was launched in April, but the missiles are still not ready for it.

In a separate interview on Friday, Masorin also said Russia should have a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean, mirroring the military ambitions of the Soviet Union.

"The Mediterranean Sea is very important strategically for the Black Sea fleet," Masorin said during a visit to the base of the fleet in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, RIA-Novosti reported. "I propose that, with the involvement of the Northern and Baltic fleets, the Navy should restore its permanent presence there."

Russia has been boosting military spending and using diplomacy to broaden its influence, especially in the Middle East.

A Russian force would further extend Moscow's influence in the Middle East and it would share Mediterranean waters with the U.S. Sixth Fleet, whose home base is in Italy.

Masorin did not say where the fleet would be based and a navy spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Analysts say the Russian navy is only just recovering from the under-funding of the 1990s, when many sailors left the accident-prone fleet.

Kommersant reported last year that the Navy had dredged the Syrian port of Tartus -- which the Soviet navy used as a supply point on the Mediterranean -- as preparation for deploying a force there. But the newspaper said the navy was, in part, using the Syrian base as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Ukraine over its lease for Sevastopol.

Moscow rents the facilities for $93 million a year under a 1997 agreement that lasts until 2017. Ukraine has sought to increase the price.