Thursday, December 29, 2011

Break Out the Champagne!

After much trial and tribulation, Dolgorukiy-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Yuriy Dolgorukiy conducted a salvo launch of the SS-NX-32 Bulava SLBM on December 23.  Despite previous media coverage of the submarine's return to port, this time there have been no images or video released of the submarine tying up to the pier or of the crew receiving the traditional roasted pig for a successful mission.  Despite there being no image of a sickly-looking piglet, Russia's Channel 1 (Первый Канал) released footage this evening that it claims to be of the salvo launch.  Between 0:10 and 0:19, you can see two distinct contrails, along with a wonderful light show in the clouds.  Between 0:20 and 0:22, you can see two small, moving specks that would represent the two missiles in flight.  It will take some time (a month or more - especially given the upcoming nine-day holiday period that starts on January 1) until the results of the flight test are finalized and approved.  Only then will the Russian Ministry of Defense forward its recommendation to the Russian government to either accept the Bulava into the Russian Navy inventory or to continue testing.  On December 27, however, President Medvedev told senior military officers gathered in the Kremlin that the flight testing portion of the overall Bulava test program had concluded and that the missile would now enter into service... pending a favorable MOD recommendation, of course.