MOSCOW, December 25 (RIA Novosti) - The chief of the Russian General Staff said Thursday that production flaws could be to blame for Tuesday's unsuccessful test launch of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile.
"Either the military-industrial complex or production itself or design shortcomings could be to blame for the failure," General of the Army Nikolai Makarov said.
Makarov said the Defense Ministry would thoroughly investigate the reasons for the failure.
The submerged launch of the Bulava ICBM took place from the Dmitry Donskoi strategic nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea, off Russia's northwest coast, targeting the Kura firing ground in Kamchatka, the Far East.
"The launch was a failure," an official at the Belomorsk naval base said. "The crew performed well. The missile left the tube, but went off course due to a malfunction after the first stage separation."
A Navy commission will investigate the cause of the unsuccessful launch, Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, a Navy spokesman, said earlier.
The latest test launch was Bulava's 10th and the fifth failure.
The previous test of the Bulava missile took place on November 28. It was launched from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea, effectively engaging its designated target on the Kamchatka Peninsula about 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) east of Moscow.
Russia earlier planned for the Bulava to enter service with the Navy in 2009. But a senior Russian Navy official said earlier this month that several more test launches would be conducted next year before a final decision to adopt it for service was made.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30), carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads and having a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles), is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier said the missile would be a key component of Russia's nuclear forces.
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