Russia begins development of new strategic ballistic missile SLBM for its future submarines

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Russian doctrine requires that each new class of nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) corresponds to a new dedicated model of SLBM, a strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile.

This is how the Project 667 SSBNs, designated by NATO as the Delta type, which entered service from 1976 to 1990, were all armed with R-29 submarine strategic ballistic missiles (SLBMs), even if these These were available in several models from the initial R-29 arming the Delta I and II, to the R-29RMU2 Layner which appeared in 2014 and arming the latest Delta IV.

The successor to the R-29, the R-30 Bulava, was to arm the new Boreï class SSBNs. The development of this missile, for the first time undertaken exclusively by Russia without the support of the know-how of the Soviet republics, was difficult to say the least.

Indeed, of the 17 firing tests that took place from 2003 to 2016, not less than 8 were failures, including two successive failures in December 2011 and October 2016, causing a significant slowdown of the Boreï SSBN program.

The R30 Bulava SLBM entered service in 2018 aboard the Borei and Borei-A SSBNs
The R30 Bulava SLBM entered service in 2018 aboard the Borei and Borei-A SSBNs

The last 4 tests, in May 2018, August 2019, December 2020 and October 2022, were successful, putting an end to the more than palpable concern of the Russian authorities about the future of the submarine component of their deterrence.

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