Bulava Ballistic Missile

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Russia recently carried out a successful test launch of the Bulava ballistic missile, designed to carry nuclear warheads.

About Bulava Ballistic Missile

  • It is a new Russian submarine-launched Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
  • Development of this missile commenced in 1998. The first powered flight test of the Bulava missile occurred in September 2005. It’s first submerged test launch followed in December. 
  • It was designed to be deployed onto Russia’s Borey-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN’s).
  • Features:
  • It was designed to be the backbone of Moscow's nuclear triad and has a range of over 8,000 kilometres (close to 5,000 miles).
  • It is 12-13.5 m in length and has a diameter of approximately 2.0 m.
  • Launch Weight: 36,800 kg
  • It is a three-stage solid-fuel missile.
  • It is designed to carry multiple warheads. Each warhead will strike a different target. 
  • It can carry 6 Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs). These MIRVs capable of maneuvering in-flight and re-targeting, in order to outmaneuver hostile air defenses.
  • It is stated that this missile has an accuracy of 350 m.

What is a Ballistic Missile?

  • It is a rocket-propelled self-guided strategic weapon system that follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver a payload from its launch site to a predetermined target.
  • Ballistic missiles are powered initially by a rocket or series of rockets in stages, but then follow an unpowered trajectory that arches upwards before descending to reach their intended target. 
  • Ballistic missiles can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads.

Q1) What is a Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV)?

MIRVs were originally developed in the early 1960s to permit a missile to deliver multiple nuclear warheads to different targets. In contrast to a traditional missile, which carries one warhead, MIRVs can carry multiple warheads.Warheads on MIRVed missiles can be released from the missile at different speeds and in different directions. Some MIRVed missiles can hit targets as far as 1,500 kilometers apart. Although MIRVs were not initially intended to defeat ballistic missile defenses, they are much more difficult to defend against than traditional missiles.

Source: Russia's new nuclear submarine successfully test launches Bulava ballistic missile