Russia‘s most advanced new nuclear-powered submarine has successfully test-launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, according to its defence ministry.
Wednesday’s launch from the White Sea off Russia’s northwestern coast came amid arms control tensions between Moscow and the West following the demise of a landmark Cold War-era nuclear pact that has sparked fears of a burgeoning arms race.
The Knyaz Vladimir, or Prince Vladimir, fired the missile from underwater that landed on target on the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia, the ministry said.
“For the first time ever, a seaborne Bulava ballistic missile was test-fired from the latest Project Borei-A strategic missile-carrying submarine Knyaz Vladimir,” the ministry said, adding the “missile’s flight went according to plan”.
“Its dummy warheads reached the range within the established time, which was registered by data recording equipment,” it said.
Launched in 2017, the Prince Vladimir submarine is the first upgraded model of Russia’s Borei class of ballistic missile submarines, designed to be more manoeuvrable and quieter than previous models.
It will enter service with Russia’s Northern Fleet at the end of this year once it has completed trials including weapons tests, the fleet’s commander, Vice Admiral Alexander Moiseev, said according to TASS news agency.
Other Borei class submarines already in service include the Yury Dolgoruky and the Alexander Nevsky. They can carry up to 16 Bulava missiles, which are designed for use on these submarines.
The global arms-control architecture erected during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check has come under strain since the demise earlier this year of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the US, the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021.
It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy.