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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Test of Bulava Missile Fails for the 5th Time

A test launch of the Navy's new Bulava submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missile ended in failure Tuesday, in just the latest setback in attempts to revamp the country's nuclear arsenal.

The missile went off course after being launched from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine and was ordered to self-destruct, a defense industry source told Interfax. No casualties or damage were caused by the explosion, the source said.

Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said Tuesday that the test launch had been carried out in the White Sea, but would not speak about the results, saying only that they were being studied.

Tuesday's test launch was the Bulava missile's 10th, five of which have been unsuccessful. The Navy had said before Tuesday that a successful launch this time would have allowed the missile to enter service next year.

Capable of carrying up to 10 warheads and with a range of up to 8,000 kilometers, the Bulava is being counted on to replace rapidly aging Soviet-era missiles to maintain strategic parity with the United States.

Further tests of the Bulava will be conducted next year, with three or four launches planned, a source within the military said, Interfax reported. Earlier this year, the head of the Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, said that 12 to 14 launches would be necessary to complete the tests.

The Bulava was designed for the Navy's newest nuclear submarines — the Yury Dolgoruky, Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh, each of which can carry up to 12 missiles.

The Yury Dolgoruky was launched this fall but has yet to be commissioned because it is still undergoing tests.

The other two submarines are still under construction at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk on the White Sea.

During his eight years as president, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin repeatedly stressed that the further development of the country's nuclear forces, including the Bulava project, was vital to defending against foreign states that he said wished to take the country's natural resources under their control.

"Measures to ensure the support and development of strategic nuclear forces will be given top priority," Vladislav Putilin, deputy head of the government's military industrial commission, told journalists Monday.

Putilin said the armed forces would procure 70 strategic nuclear missiles from 2009 to 2011.

He also said the government planned to allocate 4 trillion rubles ($141.5 billion) from 2009 to 2011 for a procurement program to modernize the army.